© Sputnik / Gavriil Grigorov
President Vladimir Putin has addressed the people of Russia following a historic election victory with over 87% of the vote in his favor, amid a record-high turnout. Here are the key takeaways from his speech and a question-and-answer session at campaign headquarters in Moscow on Sunday night.

Putin's dream

"I dreamed of a strong, independent, sovereign Russia," Putin told the audience, expressing his hope that the results of the vote "will allow us all, together with the Russian people, to achieve these goals."

Record election results

The citizens of Russia realize the dramatic situation the country is going through and understand that much depends on them, Putin said.

"Due to the current situation, due to the fact that we have to literally defend the interests of our citizens, our people with weapons in our hands, to create a future for the full-fledged, sovereign, secure development of the Russian Federation, our homeland."

This year's election was marked by a record-high voter turnout of over 74%, with Putin winning over 87% of the vote. The Russian president stressed that while the results would be good for a mono-ethnic state - for a multi-ethnic country like Russia they are "uniquely exceptional."

Future challenges

The Russian leader noted that while the country faces numerous challenges, its people will be up to the task if they remain united.

"We have a lot of tasks ahead of us. And when we are united, no one can intimidate or suppress us. No one succeeded at this before, it did not happen now and will never occur in the future."

"We have a huge development agenda, and people felt it in their hearts and came to create conditions for the development and strengthening of their Motherland... the results of the election are a guarantee that these tasks will be accomplished and goals will be reached."

Border incursions & 'cordon sanitaire' in Ukraine

Russia has repelled multiple attempts by Ukrainian sabotage groups to break into its territory over the past week, with Putin saying that "the enemy has deployed a group of about five thousand people, and their losses are about 40%. And those who crawled into our territory were destroyed almost 100%... If the enemy likes a 'meat grinder' - we even benefit from it."

Kiev claimed that the operation was staged by paramilitary units, which portray themselves as collaborator forces composed of Russian defectors and fugitive neo-Nazis. Putin likened the saboteurs to the Vlasov army collaborators who fought under German Nazi command during WWII.

"Those traitors, that scum fought on the side of Nazis, and now there are similar people who fight on the side of neo-Nazis," the president stressed, adding: "We all know how they ended up."

In order to protect its people from cross-border Ukrainian strikes, Russia could at some point be "forced" to set up a buffer zone in Kiev-controlled territories. The Russian forces would establish a "security zone that would be quite difficult for the adversary to overcome with its weapons, primarily of foreign origin," if and "when we consider it appropriate," Putin added.

Talks with Ukraine

Moscow has always favored peace talks, as long as the opponents are serious about establishing good neighborly relations in the long term, not just because "the adversary has run out of ammunition," Putin said.

He added that Russia is ready to consider various scenarios, provided that they align with the national interest. But since Kiev barred talks with the current leadership in Moscow, and President Vladimir Zelensky has no intention to hold elections, it will require "painstaking research" to even figure out "who to negotiate with over there," Putin noted.

Conflict with NATO

Weighing in on the possibility of a direct confrontation between NATO and Russia, Putin said that "anything is possible in the modern world" and warned that it "would be one step shy of a full-scale World War III.""I don't think that anyone is interested in that," he added, stressing that Moscow was well aware of the US-led military bloc's push to deploy troops in Ukraine.

Putin noted that volunteer fighters from NATO states are facing extremely grim prospects, saying "there is nothing good in this, first of all for them, because they die there and in large numbers."