President Vladimir V. Putin announced on Wednesday that he would seek a fourth term as president of Russia in a March election that he is expected to win handily.
The Russian leader chose an enthusiastic audience of the GAZ automobile factory workers in Nizhny Novgorod to make the announcement.
"I couldn't find a better place and moment for that," he said, to massive applause. "Thank you for your support, I will run for president."
While few doubted that Putin would run in the March 18 vote in 2018, a delay in announcing his bid was seen as part of the Kremlin's political maneuvering.
A full, six-year term until 2024 would make his 24-year tenure, including his years as prime minister, the longest by a Russian leader since Joseph Stalin sat in the Kremlin for 29 years. It is widely believed that Mr. Putin wants to use what should be his last term, barring further constitutional changes, to cement his place as one of the more important historical figures ever to rule Russia.
It has been a somewhat an improbable run for Mr. Putin, 65, who spent the bulk of his early career as a middle-level K.G.B. agent in East Germany.
Since taking power in 2000, Mr Putin, has won three elections but had to stand aside for four years in 2008.
Putin's approval ratings top 80 percent, making him certain to win an easy first-round victory. Blue-collar workers and state employees form the core of his support base.
"Thank you for your work, for your attitude to your jobs, your factory, your city and your country!" Putin told workers. "I'm sure that together we will succeed."
The upper house of parliament is expected to give the formal start to the election campaign later this month.
Russia’s Election day has been moved to March 18, the fourth anniversary of the annexation, as a pointed reminder to voters.