Ukraine spy boss says Putin is using a body double 'because his ears changed' amid health claims

5 August 2022, 06:06

Putin's health has been heavily speculated on since the invasion of Ukraine began
Putin's health has been heavily speculated on since the invasion of Ukraine began. Picture: Getty

By Will Taylor

Ukraine's head of military intelligence has claimed Vladimir Putin is using a body double because his ears have changed in recent appearances.

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The Russian president's health has been speculated on for much of the invasion amid questions about his physical appearance and fears about his mental state.

Putin has been seen walking with an awkward gait, a trembling arm and looking bloated in various appearances since he ordered his troops into the bloody invasion.

Ukraine's Major General Kyrylo Budanov brought up a theory that the 69-year-old has been using a double on the 1+1 news channel.

"The picture, let's say, of the ears, is different...

"And it's like a fingerprint, each person's ear picture is unique. It cannot be repeated," he said.

Read more: US basketballer Brittney Griner jailed for nine years in Russia over drug charges

Putin could be using a double, a Ukrainian intelligence chief has claimed
Putin could be using a double, a Ukrainian intelligence chief has claimed. Picture: Getty

Maj Gen Budanov claimed the Russian president and the alleged doubles have "different habits, different mannerisms, different gaits, sometimes even different heights if you looked closely".

He used an example of Putin's recent visit to Tehran, the Iranian capital, in which he suggested the president looked awkward as he descended from his plane, moving quickly and appearing more alert than before.

"I will only hint. Please look at the moment of Putin's exit from the plane. Is it Putin at all?" the intelligence boss added.

Whether the claim is a genuinely held belief by Ukrainian spies or propaganda aimed at a domestic and Russian audience will be debated.

While the invasion of Ukraine has brought with it intense speculation about Putin's health, driven by strange footage of him appearing frail, Moscow claims he is fine.

CIA director William Burns said last month there is no evidence Putin is unwell.

"There are lots of rumours about President Putin's health and as far as we can tell he's entirely too healthy," Mr Burns joked at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, though he said this was not based on formal intelligence.

The UK's chief of defence staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin, said "I think some of these comments that 'he's not well' or 'surely someone is going to assassinate him', they're wishful thinking."

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