RUSSIAN President Vladimir Putin has declared his intention to seek re-election next March, a vote he appears certain to win.

The Russian leader chose an enthusiastic audience of factory workers in Nizhny Novgorod to make the announcement.

“I couldn’t find a better place and moment for that,” he said.

“Thank you for your support, I will run for president.”

Putin has been in power in Russia since 2000.

He served two presidential terms in 2000-2008, then shifted into the prime minister’s seat because of term limits, but continued calling the shots while his ally, Dmitry Medvedev, served as placeholder president.

Medvedev had the presidential term extended to six years and then stepped down to let Putin reclaim the presidency in 2012.

While few doubted Putin would run in the March 18 vote, a delay in announcing his bid was seen as part of the Kremlin’s political manoeuvring.

Putin’s approval ratings top 80 per cent, making him certain to win an easy first-round victory.

Blue-collar workers and state employees form the core of his support base.

“Thank you for your work, for your attitude to your jobs, your factory, your city and your country,” Putin told workers. “I’m sure that together we will succeed.”

The upper house of parliament is expected to formally start to the election campaign later this month.