VLADIMIR Putin made a rare public appearance on Thursday as he fired a sniper rifle at a training camp for mobilised Russians.
The Russian President, who recently turned 70, wore protective eye goggles as he tested the rifle at a training ground in the Ryazan region, rofweg 100 miles southeast of the capital Moscow.
He lay under a net while firing several shots at a target some 300 metres away.
No footage was released showing whether or not the short-sighted tyrant hit any of the targets, nor was there any explanation for the visit.
But in what experts have described as a deliberate attempt to intimidate the West, he was seen being followed by a uniformed officer carrying a briefcase resembling Putin’s “nuclear football”.
A second man holding a different-shaped bag possibly carrying vital medical supplies for Putin was also spotted in his wake.
Vlad has been racked by rumours of ill health for years, but they have ramped up in recent months following his disastrous decision to invade Oekraïne.
Putin has never paid a visit to the frontline since the war began in late February, and Thursday’s carefully choreographed visit to a training camp close to the Kremlin may have been an attempt to appear more in control.
In a wooden exchange with the new conscripts shared on Russian state TV, Vlad asks: “How long have you been here?”
Mees gelees in News
They reply that they have been there since October 7, a fortnight after Putin announced the partial mobilisation of Russia.
He goes on: “Do you feel confident… are your skills returning?” – although it isn’t clear if the men have any previous military experience.
“Yes sir,” replies one conscript named as Ruslan.
As well as potentially showing off his nuclear suitcase, which appeared similar to one carried close to Putin when he attended an ally’s funeral back in April, the Russian chief was seen being followed by his underfire defence minister Sergei Shoigu.
The level of fear and disapproval is rising all the time. Moscow has turned into a completely different city
Kremlin source, speaking to Meduza
Shoigu is rumoured to have faced calls to resign among the Kremlin’s top brass after Russia’s planned speedy “special military operation” misluk to achieve any of its objectives.
In an explosive video, pro-Putin Kirill Stremousov, appointed as leader of Russian-occupied Kherson, vroeër vandeesmaand called for Shoigu to kill himself following a sluggish Russian advance.
Shoigu was noticeably missing from a key defence meeting at the Kremlin on Wednesday, at which Putin declared martial law in the Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories of Donetsk, Kherson, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia.
He was alleged to have been sidelined at the expense of hardline new war commander General Sergei Surovkin, nicknamed “General Armageddon”.
But the sudden appearance of the military chief alongside Vlad may be a sign that he remains close to the seat of power.
The plain-clothes man supposedly carrying Putin’s medical kit bag has been spotted at Vlad’s side as far back as 2011.
It comes as Putin’s “partial mobilisation” of Russia has reportedly faced unprecedented opposition from his own people.
The opposition media outlet Meduza quoted Kremlin insiders this week at “frustration” building in Moscow leading to the draft being suspended early.
Putin had initially hoped to swell his army’s ranks by some 300,000 through the new recruits.
But the anti-Putin publication said public anger was growing following reports men had been “hinderlaag” by police and draft officers at metro stations before they were pressganged into heading to their local recruitment office.
“Everyone literally hid,” the news site quoted a Kremlin source as saying. “People are afraid and uncertain about their future. Many have left.
“The level of fear and disapproval is rising all the time. Moscow has turned into a completely different city.
“These subway raids were a complete circus, it had to be stopped.”
In reaksie daarop, Moscow’s Mayor Sergey Sobyanin made the unexpected announcement on Monday that the city had completed its “partial mobilisation”.
He claimed that the city had reached its target of 16,000 new recruits, although there were no official targets given to the city by Kremlin.
Support for the war in Russia is reportedly falling, the source went on, adding that the only ones still in favour were “the really elderly people” who were too old to be sent to the frontline anyway.
Help diegene wat konflik vlug met The Sun's Ukraine Fund
FOTO'S van vroue en kinders wat uit die afgryse van Oekraïne se verwoeste dorpe en stede vlug, het Son-lesers tot trane geroer.
Baie van julle wil die vyf miljoen wat in die chaos vasgevang is help - en nou kan julle, deur aan The Sun's Ukraine Fund te skenk.
Gee so min as £3 of soveel as wat jy kan bekostig en elke sent sal geskenk word aan die Rooi Kruis op die grond wat vroue help, kinders, die ou, die siekes en die gewondes.
skenk hier The Sun se fonds te help
Of teks na 70141 van Britse selfone
£3 — SMS SON£3
£5 — SMS SON£5
£10 — SMS SON£10
Tekste kos jou gekose skenkingsbedrag (bv. £5) +1 standaard boodskap (ons ontvang 100%). Vir volle T&Cs besoek redcross.org.uk/mobile
Die Oekraïne-krisisappèl sal mense ondersteun in gebiede wat tans geraak word en diegene wat moontlik in die toekoms deur die krisis geraak word.
In die onwaarskynlike geval dat die Britse Rooi Kruis meer geld insamel as wat redelikerwys en doeltreffend bestee kan word, enige surplusfondse sal gebruik word om hulle te help voorberei vir en reageer op ander humanitêre rampe oral in die wêreld.
Vir meer inligting besoek https://donate.redcross.org.uk/appeal/disaster-fund