Russian President Vladimir Putin and his close allies have reportedly drafted evacuation plans should Ukraine manage to defeat thousands of invading Russian soldiers.
The Ukrainian military claimed on Saturday it killed dozens of Russian troops in the city of Kherson in the south, and rail traffic has been cut, potentially isolating the invaders from sending military supplies to Crimea and slowing its attack.
Russia has struggled in recent weeks to overcome defiant Ukrainian troops with offensive fronts stalling while Moscow’s economy has begun to collapse from the dozens of sanctions imposed by dozens of nations, including Australia.
British and defence intelligence officials also suggested Putin’s soldiers were struggling to maintain momentum in the ongoing war that has lasted 162 days so far.
A Russian Telegram channel indicated the 69-year-old is “aware of the possibility of a sharp change of mood in the country” that has left many residents frustrated.
“Defeat in the war for the President of Russia will mean the end of his power and the regimen as a whole,” Telegram account General CVR wrote, citing tip offs from “retired and active intelligence agents”.
Last week the same account reported the dictator suffered from “severe nausea” that saw a him treated for three hours by a team of doctors who rush to his bedside.
Since then, a new report has claimed “Putin himself and his entourage are preparing plans for evacuation from Russia” in search for refuge if his war failed.
Ukrainian officials have confirmed that a counter-offensive against Russian forces is gaining momentum. It comes after Russia deployed missile strikes over Kyiv for the first time in weeks.
Four ally countries would be on the cards for the Russian President should he flee.
Belarus, who Putin shares a close friendship with its President Alexander Lukashenko, Myanmar, Venezuela, Syria and possibly Iran are some of the countries who could help.
But the most likely option is believed to be Syria after its leader Bashar al-Assad was bailed out by Putin when he intervened in the Syrian civil war in 2015.
The only issue is the plan would need to fly over NATO country Turkey who could refuse entry into its airspace and the only route between Russia and Syria.
“Will Turkey let the planes with Putin, his family and those who will join fly to Syria?” Telegram account General CVR questioned.
“In principle, it is beneficial for Iran and Turkey to keep the Russian president in exile in reserve, using him, depending on the situation, as a lever or as a bargaining chip.”
Rumours over Putin’s health has circulated in recent months after footage of him limping, shaking and sitting awkwardly drew speculation he was unwell.
He appeared to limp as he walked to lay a wreath during Russia’s Victory Day ceremonies in May and was then later pictured shivering under a heavy blanket.
In February the dictator’s hands appeared to shake uncontrollably while he welcomed his ally President Lukashenko to the Kremlin.
Footage later showed him sitting on a chair in an awkward position and unable to remain still as he constantly fidgeted and tapped his feet and clutching the table.
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