The hosts almost went ahead after after seven minutes when Viktor Vasin's glancing header crashed against the upright with Stefan Marinovic well beaten.
Russia, playing New Zealand in Group A to kick off the cup, scored in the 31st minute through Denis Glushakov.
Marinovic had to be at his best shortly after the break, as he produced a superb save to keep out Dmitry Poloz's impressive header.
In the 69th minute, Russian Federation scored again when Smolov started a move on the halfway line, passed the ball wide to the right to Alexander Samedov and Smolov sprinted in to the penalty area to score from five yards.
"We achieved a very good result and at times a very good game".
He also congratulated the local Organizing Committee, the Russian Football Union and all those who had taken efforts to hold the Confederations Cup.More news: Rodman's N. Korea trip off to uncharacteristic low-key start
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Russia, a record low 63rd in FIFA's world rankings, face Portugal on Wednesday and New Zealand play Mexico the same day.
The Russian players during their final training session ahead of today's match against New Zealand.
Russian Federation sealed all three points as Smolov started and finished a swift passing move in the 69th minute to extended their unbeaten streak to four matches under Cherchesov.
First, Aleksandr Samedov's corner found Viktor Vasin, whose diving header from 12 yards struck the inside the post before being hacked clear off the line by Michael McGlinchey.
Ten minutes before kickoff, both teams lined up in front of the main stand to listen speeches by Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
"For Russia this is a great holiday, we have been preparing for it over the past several years".
Federation Internationale de Football Association has for the first time implemented a three-step procedure at the Confederations Cup that allows referees to stop matches in the event of racist or discriminatory incidents. He prefers ice hockey and saw a team that carried fervent hopes of an Olympic title lose on home ice in the quarterfinals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.