President Vladimir Putin kept Russians waiting as he dodged an opportunity to announce his long-awaited bid for another six-year term. He added that Nizhny Novgorod, where the Gorky Automobile Plant is located, is known as "Russia's third capital" and the birthplace of the people's militia movement that helped preserve Russian statehood and sovereignty during the 1612 war with Poland.
He held the office of president for two terms from 2000 to 2008, and served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012.
Russia's elections on March 18 are timed to coincide with the anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine-a move that boosted Putin's popularity at home.
It is not yet clear whether Putin will run as an independent candidate or secure the backing of a political party - most likely the parliamentary majority party United Russia.
"Because we have elections coming, so you can invite me in February - I can still do it in February", Putin said alluding to his participation in the presidential election in March 2018.
Putin is seeking a fourth term as president.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who is unlikely to be allowed to run against Putin due to what he says is a trumped up criminal conviction, said Putin was overstaying his welcome.
He has organised a grassroots campaign and staged rallies across Russian Federation to raise pressure on the Kremlin to let him register for the race.
In the meantime, perhaps the Kremlin's biggest task will be to make it look as if Putin faces real electoral competition. "I will run for president".
In comments released by the Kremlin, Putin said the military operation in the area was now finished, and that the focus would switch to a political process that would eventually involve presidential and parliamentary elections.
Veterans of past campaigns - Communist chief Gennady Zyuganov, ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky and liberal leader Grigory Yavlinsky - all have declared their intention to run.
State television, where many Russians still get their news, affords Putin blanket and uncritical coverage while ignoring or denigrating his opponents.