Someone could have been Putin on an act.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin may have been replaced by a doppelganger during a trip to Iran this week, a top Ukrainian official said.
The Russian president, who has long been rumored to be ill and may have cancer, seemed more alert and mobile than usual during his visit to Iran to meet Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Ukrainian sources told The Sun.
Major General Kyrylo O. Budanov told Ukrainian outlet 1+1 that Putin’s vivid appearance during the visit was uncharacteristic, suggesting that the man seen in the footage was not Putin.
“I’ll just give a hint,” Budanov said, according to the translation.
“Please watch the moment when Putin gets off the plane. Is it Putin at all?”
Putin’s visit to Iran was his first international trip since the invasion of Ukraine began on February 24.
US intelligence officials said the discussion was over a deal for Iran to sell Russia “several hundred” drones — including some capable of weapons attacks — for use in the war against Ukraine.
In May, an anti-Putin Telegram channel “General SVR” — reportedly run by a former Russian foreign intelligence lieutenant — alleged that body doubles had been set up to replace Putin if necessary when he underwent surgery.
The mysterious Telegram account also claimed that pre-recorded footage will be released of Putin attending meetings and signing laws to make it look like he’s still working.
Putin said two years ago that he was offered the opportunity to hire a double officer in the early 2000s to carry out his duties for security purposes, but ultimately decided against it.
On Thursday, CIA Director William Burns noted that Putin looked “completely too healthy”, contradicting previous US intelligence officials who said the Russian leader’s health was declining and that he was battling cancer.
According to the latest CIA estimates, an estimated 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the conflict so far.