Putin to face questions at annual news conference

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Boosted by recent diplomatic and military success in the Middle East, Russian President Vladimir Putin was due to face questions at his annual televised news conference on Thursday.

The event, which usually lasts several hours and covers everything from the domestic economy to his personal life, comes days after Putin made a triumphant trip to Syria to hail a victory for Russian forces in Syria and to Egypt and Turkey where he announced deeper ties and trade deals.

Image: Vladimir Putin pictured at the Kremlin on Tuesday.

The event will also be a launchpad for Putin's re-election campaign as he seeks another six-year term in the March 18 presidential poll.

With his approval ratings topping 80 percent, he is on course to extend his lock on power to 24 years and become the country's longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Last year, Putin boasted about the strength of Russia's nuclear arsenal but said he would not be drawn into an arms race with U.S. after then-president-elect Donald Trump suggesting America should expand its nuclear capabilities.

He has also faced questions about his personal life, including one about the identity of his daughters, who were born in the 1980s in Germany when he was working for the KGB spy agency. Putin could also be asked about North Korea, where a delegation from Russia's defense ministry arrived on Wednesday.

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