Putin in hiding after ‘behind the scenes’ panic over Moscow drone attack

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Russian Vladimir Putin is avoiding trips out of the country as he no longer feels safe following repeated Ukrainian drone attacks and an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, according to several new reports.

On Wednesday, Russian state media reported that Putin would not attend the inauguration of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan, sending State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin instead.

Putin will also not attend an upcoming Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit in India that was originally scheduled to be held in person. The organizers of this summit announced on Tuesday that the format would go virtual, with The Hindu pointing out that “scheduling difficulties” were the reason for the change. The decision may also have been prompted by Putin’s presence threatening to “cast a shadow” over the event, according to the publication.

An unnamed senior Russian official quoted by independent media outlet Verstka said Putin’s decision to stay within Russia’s borders was likely due to the order from The Hague for his arrest. The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president in March, charging him with war crimes for the forcible deportation of children from Ukraine.

Ukrainian spy boss bluntly admits intent to assassinate Putin

Recent drone attacks on Moscow have also scared Putin, the source said.

The feeling “behind the scenes in the Kremlin,” the source said, was that Putin feared traveling anywhere: “He has no sense of security.”

While the Kremlin played down this week’s drone attack on the Russian capital, Moscow time reported Wednesday that Putin was most likely at his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo when air defenses shot down a drone heading towards him a few miles away.

A source close to the Kremlin told the outlet that the Russian leader was woken up early by his security team amid the attack.

Ukrainian authorities have not hesitated to assassinate the Russian president, with the deputy intelligence chief confirming earlier this month that Putin was top of the list.

Pressure is also mounting in connection with the Hague arrest warrant: opposition groups in South Africa have demanded that their government arrest Putin if he attends the BRICS summit to be held there in August.

While South African authorities announced that they would grant “immunity” to summit participants, they cryptically added that immunity “does not nullify any warrant that may have been issued by an international tribunal against any attending the conference”.

Meanwhile, billboards have reportedly been erected in South Africa telling President Cyril Ramaphosa to ‘stop Putin’.

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