Russian Vladimir Putin is using three body doubles who have undergone plastic surgery in order to look alike claims a highly placed Ukrainian official. Major General Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, asserted that the body doubles are being used in order to obfuscate Putin’s loss of control in the Kremlin.
Budanov claimed that Ukrainian officials are so confused by Russia’s invasion strategy that they are beginning to postulate speculate whether or not the former KGB officer is still at the helm. He admits that “no matter how bad” Putin was in the past, “he was not an idiot”, but insists that Russia’s tactics in Ukraine have evaded all logic.
Casting doubt on Putin’s command of Russia, Budanov asks, “The big question is whether the real Putin still exists?”
He is not the first to claim that Putin is using body doubles to manipulate public perception. Rumors of poor health have circulated the Russian president for some time now. The latest iteration of this suggestion comes in an exclusive interview with Ukraine’s Budanov obtained by the Daily Mail’s Ian Birrel. Budanov says that Ukrainian intelligence had identified Putin doubles standing in for him on “special occasions” but now, it has become usual practice. If the claims are true, Putin is walking in the paranoid footsteps of Saddam Hussein and Josef Stalin, both whom were reported to have routinely used body doubles.
“The one thing that gives them away is their height. It’s visible in videos and pictures. Also gesturing, body language and earlobes, since they are unique for every person”, Budanov said. After questioning Putin’s whereabouts – or whether the Russian leader still exists – Budanov declined to give an answer of his own, refusing to pin down what factors such as failing health, or the depths of an internal power struggle that may be leading to the deceptive action. He does, however, state that the Russian state’s supply of guided missiles is running dry, and believes that if Ukrainian forces are able to regain control of the southern outpost Kherson that it would have severe ramifications for the regime in Moscow.
He says that “change is inevitable” in regards to the Russian leadership, and he argued that a regime change is in the interests of the “civilized world” requesting the U.K. to use everything in their power to expedite the process. Budanov’s demands for political upheaval in Russia are similar to those President Biden made back in the spring – demands that the White House scrambled to soft-pedal.
Making sure to note the Ukrainian government’s gratitude for Britain’s support, Budanov thanks them before asking for more: “We hope the UK will not only continue political, economic and military support but increase it. We are in acute need of air defense systems.”
Budanov admitted there is a possibility that if Ukrainian forces are able to recapture Kherson, the decision will then be made whether to continue push further past the Russian border. He professes that he now sees the mission to recapture Crimea is now “personal” as he spent summers in the southern port of Sevastopol. He maintains that the peninsula, officially annexed by Russia in 2014 and is among the vast area won by Russia since February of this year, will be recaptured by Ukraine, and rebukes those who he says are “stupidly” arguing that Ukraine should not escalate the war with Russia.
Budanov dismissed the threat of nuclear weapons being deployed by Russia as “scaremongering”. “Nuclear weapons are not weapons – they are the means of deterrence. And Russia knows perfectly well it cannot use them. If you study when they started to threaten with them, you’ll see clear correlation: when everything goes bad for them, they start screaming, ‘We can use nuclear weapons'”, Budanov went on to say.
It should be noted that Ukraine is not a nuclear power having given up their nuclear arsenal in 1994’s Budapest Memorandum, and if Ukraine maintains hopes of reversing Russia’s territorial gains they will have to endure those threats for some time to come.
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