Putin seen with nuclear button as election called and Kremlin rival emerges

As an election looms for Russian president Vladimir Putin, there may be a few strange tactics he deploys to get the best of Kremlin rivals.

The world leader is no stranger to dirty tricks and the sinister tactics displayed by the Russian president in recent days has certainly turned heads. Putin, 71, was spotted viewing a simulation of the "nuclear button".

The 71-year-old is currently seeking re-election and just days ago was spotted looking at a mock control panel for nuclear war while observing blast and mushroom cloud images.

READ MORE: Putin's armed forces 'tying war refuseniks to trees all night' to break spirits

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Pictures of the president showed him overlooking a simulation of what could occur should he push the big red button – a world-ending implication the despot has threatened a number of times.

He refused to push the button, but the Russian president has presented threats of nuclear warfare before, even launching ballistic missiles in Belarus and firming up on using the radioactive rockets in thinly veiled threats to the west.

But Putin could have to rely on further sinister moves after Kremlin insiders reportedly identified Russian businessman Alexei Nechaev to stand against Putin in the upcoming election.

An election is legally required to be held in March 2024 for the Russian state, and New People party head Nechaev could be the leading man to challenge Putin for the presidency.

It comes after the Kremlin rather prematurely announced Putin would face "no competition" should he run in 2024. The despot now appears to have someone standing in his way.

Despite denying appearances through the week were anything to do with an election campaign, brushing shoulders with world leaders and granting the wishes of children in a bizarre moment certainly give a whiff of campaigning, The Moscow Times reported.

Putin was spotted hanging around with children, granting the wishes of those in attendance at a Christmas tree wishlist and deeming those he selected from the tree would come true.

He also bumbled around a replica of Joseph Stalin's home before meeting with a number of foreign ambassadors in the Kremlin. He said: "Energy has always been an attractive area of bilateral cooperation," before meeting with delegates, Huffington Post reported.

Although worsening relationships were seen between Ukraine and Russia given the latter's invasion of the former, Putin is hopeful allies of the Volodymyr Zelenskyy-helmed country can improve their relationship with Russia.

He said of the UK: "Let us hope that the situation will change for the better in the interests of our two countries and peoples."

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