The Latest: Putin says he will stand for re-election

Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks at the annual Volunteer of Russia 2017 award ceremony at the Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Putin has moved an inch closer to announcing his intention to seek re-election in the next March's vote, saying he would weigh the move based on public support. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks at the annual Volunteer of Russia 2017 award ceremony at the Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Putin has moved an inch closer to announcing his intention to seek re-election in the next March's vote, saying he would weigh the move based on public support. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, back to a camera, speaks at the annual Volunteer of Russia 2017 award ceremony at the Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Putin has moved an inch closer to announcing his intention to seek re-election in the next March's vote, saying he would weigh the move based on public support.(Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks at the annual Volunteer of Russia 2017 award ceremony at the Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Putin has moved an inch closer to announcing his intention to seek re-election in the next March's vote, saying he would weigh the move based on public support. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks at the annual Volunteer of Russia 2017 award ceremony at the Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Putin has moved an inch closer to announcing his intention to seek re-election in the next March's vote, saying he would weigh the move based on public support. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at the annual Volunteer of Russia 2017 award ceremony at the Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Putin has moved an inch closer to announcing his intention to seek re-election in the next March's vote, saying he would weigh the move based on public support.(Alexei Nikolsky, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)
Russian President Vladimir Putin gestures as he speaks at the annual Volunteer of Russia 2017 award ceremony at the Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Putin has moved an inch closer to announcing his intention to seek re-election in the next March's vote, saying he would weigh the move based on public support. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)
Russian President Vladimir Putin, center, arrives to attend at the annual Volunteer of Russia 2017 award ceremony at the Megasport Sport Palace in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017. Putin has moved an inch closer to announcing his intention to seek re-election in the next March's vote, saying he would weigh the move based on public support. (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

MOSCOW — The Latest on Vladimir Putin (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he will seek re-election in next March's election.

Putin's statement Wednesday came at a meeting with workers of the GAZ factory in Nizny Novgorod. Several hours earlier, he was asked about his intentions in Moscow and signaled that he would run but stopped short of declaring his bid.

With his approval ratings topping 80 percent, Putin is certain to win a quick victory in the March 18 vote.

Addressing the automobile factory workers, Putin said he couldn't find a better place and a better moment to announce his candidacy.

Putin has effectively been in power in Russia since 2000.

___

3:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has inched closer to declaring his intention to seek re-election in next March's vote, saying he will weigh the decision based on public support.

Speaking at a meeting with volunteers Wednesday, Putin was asked if he would run and said that public trust would be a key factor in his decision.

He said he would decide "shortly" if he will run in the March 18 vote, adding — to massive applause — that he would take the audience's support into account.

Putin, whose approval ratings top 80 percent, is set to easily win the vote, but he has dragged his feet on announcing his bid. He's expected to make the move after the upper house of parliament formally launches the race later this month.

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