National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby mocked the upcoming Russian presidential election while speaking with the press aboard Air Force One.
Kirby, answering questions from the press, was asked for comment on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s announcement he was running to retain his office.
“Well, that’s going to be one humdinger of a horse race, isn’t it?” Kirby joked.
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He added, “That’s all I’ve got to say on that.”
Putin, 71, announced his decision to stand for re-election in March following a Kremlin award ceremony after which war veterans and others reportedly pleaded with him to run.
With a firm grip on power already, Putin is widely expected to win another six-year term in office, although a change to the country’s constitution will allow him to run again in 2030, which could see his authority extend to 2036. He secured 76% of the vote in the 2018 election.
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Kirby touched on the United States’ waning financial support for Ukraine in a White House press conference Friday.
Asked by a reporter about reports that Putin’s regime is celebrating Republican opposition to continued funding of the conflict, Kirby said the failure of Western powers to sustain defense of Ukraine was playing into the dictator’s hands.
“This is a great gift to Vladimir Putin that we would walk away from Ukraine. He’s banking on that. He’s been banking on that kind of a development since early on in this war, because he didn’t believe that the West could stay united,” said Kirby.
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He continued, “He didn’t believe NATO could stay united. He didn’t believe the United States had the staying power.”
Imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny last week urged his supporters to vote for anyone but Putin.
“Putin views this election as a referendum on approval of his actions,” Navalny said in an online statement. “A referendum on approval of the war. Let’s disrupt his plans and make it happen so that no one on March 17 is interested in the rigged result, but that all of Russia saw and understood: the will of the majority is that Putin must leave.”
Fox News Digital’s Michael Dorgan contributed to this report.