Vladimir Putin’s preferred mode of transportation these days is said to be a customized armored train because the Russian president is “scared” that his private plane could be shot out of a sky, according to a new report.
Illya Rozhdestvensky, a reporter with the anti-Kremlin investigative unit the Dossier Center, told CNN that since the outbreak of the war in Ukraine, Putin has mostly stopped using his presidential aircraft.
Instead, he reportedly has been traveling in an armored train equipped with a special communication system.
“The psychological reason of using this train is that he’s scared,” Rozhdestvensky told the outlet. “He’s scared that he can be tracked, that his plane can be tracked, that his plane can be shot down.”
According to the investigative reporter, the Russian leader believes that traveling by train is safer and that “nobody will know where he is going.”
The Dossier Center, which has uncovered Putin’s purported new travel arrangements, is financed by exiled Russian oligarch and opposition activist Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who launched the project in 2018 to track the suspected criminal activities of people associated with the Kremlin.
With the war in Ukraine nearing its one-year anniversary, the UK Ministry of Defense reported in an intelligence update Friday that Moscow’s forces have likely suffered up to 200,000 casualties since Feb. 24, including as many as 60,000 soldiers killed.
“By modern standards, these figures represent a high ratio of personnel killed compared to those wounded,” according to the ministry. “This is almost certainly due to extremely rudimentary medical provision across much of the force. Artillery has almost certainly inflicted the majority of Russia’s casualties.”
According to the latest figures released by the White House Friday, the Russian mercenary outfit Wagner Group has suffered more than 30,000 casualties in Ukraine.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby added that it is estimated that 90% of Wagner Group’s fighters killed since December were convicts.
Wagner mercenaries have been in the thick of the bloodiest fighting on the front lines, including the ongoing battle for the city of Bakhmut, which Russian forces have been trying to capture for months.
Russia is said to be beefing up its forces in eastern and southern Ukraine in preparation for a large-scale offensive aimed at delivering a decisive blow before Kyiv starts receiving shipments of Western battle tanks and long-range missiles.
Speaking remotely at a security conference in Munich Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky urged world leaders to speed up the supply of weapons to his country, warning his audience made up of hundreds of politicians, military officers and diplomats that dithering and delays also threatened their nations’ safety.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and French President Emmanuel Macron pledged commitment to military support for Ukraine, and said long-term backing for Kyiv’s cause was the only way to get Moscow to back down.
Zelensky, comparing the conflict in Ukraine to a David-against-Goliath struggle for freedom, said Russia was wreaking destruction and plotting to “strangle” Ukraine’s neighbor Moldova while Western leaders dragged their feet.
He said it was “obvious” that Russian President Vladimir Putin had set his sights on other former Soviet countries.
“Determination is never abstract. David defeated Goliath not by the power of conversation, but by the power of his actions,” said Zelensky, adding that “Goliath must lose” for the world to be safe.
With Post wires