Russian President Vladimir Putin won re-election by a wide margin Sunday, according to a state-run exit poll, strengthening his hand amid an escalating confrontation with the West.
After 18 years in power, Mr. Putin will start a new six-year term at a time of sharply deteriorating relations with Western adversaries, who accuse him of military adventurism in Ukraine and Syria and hostile attacks ranging from election meddling to attempted assassinations.
Mr. Putin’s foreign policy, coupled with efforts to rebuild the Russian military, have been part of an effort by the 65-year-old former KGB officer to boost his country’s standing on the world stage—a campaign that has helped make him extremely popular with his people.
An exit poll from state-run pollster VTsIOM showed Mr. Putin with 73.9% of the vote, dominating a field otherwise made up mostly of weak and little-known figures. By comparison, he scored 63.6% in 2012, two years before his seizure of Crimea from Ukraine sent his approval ratings soaring.
The result was in little doubt, given that the Kremlin has steadily tightened its grip over the main levers of power in Russia, including media and law enforcement—both of which the government uses to promote the president and sideline opponents. His most prominent critic, Alexei Navalny, was barred from running in the campaign.
Mr. Putin’s broad popularity is also based on the rise in living standards over his years in power, although the economy has faltered in recent years.