Ukrainian military leader claims Putin is using THREE lookalikes who have had plastic surgery
Vladimir Putin is using at least three body doubles that have undergone plastic surgery to look like him, claims the Ukrainian intelligence chief who speculates they are being used to conceal his loss of control in the Kremlin.
Major General Kyrylo Budanov, head of military intelligence, says the Ukrainian government is so perplexed by Russia’s disastrous invasion strategy that it wonders if Putin is still making the key decisions.
He says ‘no matter how bad Putin was’ in the past, ‘he wasn’t an idiot’, but goes on to say that Russia’s war ‘does not follow any logic’.
Budanov adds: “The big question is, does the real Putin still exist?
A Vladimir Putin lookalike (left) compared to the Russian leader (right). Ukraine’s intelligence chief claims Putin is using at least three look-alikes who have undergone plastic surgery to look like him
The extraordinary suggestion, amid repeated rumors about Putin’s health, came in an exclusive interview with the man considered Moscow’s No. 1 public enemy after a series of devastating attacks on Russian interests.
Budanov says they had detected Putin duplicates in the past to replace him on “special occasions”, but it is now “usual practice”. “We specifically know of three people who continue to appear, but how many there are, we don’t know,” he says. “They all had plastic surgery to look the same.
“The only thing that gives them away is their size. It’s visible in videos and photos. Also gestures, body language and earlobes, because they are unique for each person. Budanov refuses to d to be fired over whether Putin is missing, due to illness or after a power struggle. He reveals that the Kremlin has run out of guided missiles and believes that if Ukraine retakes the southern city of Kherson , this could have dramatic consequences for the Russian regime.
He says “change is inevitable” in Moscow, arguing that the arrival of a new political order in Russia is in the interests of “the whole civilized world” and calling on Britain to do everything “to accelerate events that will happen anyway”. .
“We are very grateful for the help your government is providing,” Budanov says. “We hope the UK will not only continue its political, economic and military support, but increase it. We urgently need air defense systems.
He admits that Ukrainian leaders would have discussions about whether to continue pushing their forces beyond the Russian border. “This decision will be taken by the head of state when we have recovered all our land,” he said.
Major General Kyrylo Budanov, head of military intelligence (pictured) wondered ‘if the real Putin still exists?’
Budanov is a former special forces member who was appointed head of military intelligence two years ago, aged just 34 – then promoted shortly before the war to oversee all intelligence. He was wounded several times in battle.
Russian media have linked him to undercover operations in Crimea, along with another officer who later died in a car bomb attack, while there were reports in Ukraine that he had been targeted in an attempted attack. assassination in 2019.
Last week, a prominent Russian analyst hailed Budanov’s effectiveness and called for his elimination. “Yeah, they officially call me Public Enemy No 1,” he laughs.
We met in a dark room after being led to the scene by a senior female officer. There was a German machine gun on the floor and two knives on his desk, next to a chessboard and a book about Mossad, the Israeli spy agency.
First, we discussed the future of the war, which he says will end next year. When I ask if the fighting could be over by the summer, he replies, “I really hope so.
His reputation grew before the war as the only Ukrainian figure to publicly back British and American intelligence warnings that Putin was planning a full-scale invasion as his troops massed on the border.
Now Budanov sees Ukraine’s recapture of Crimea as a “personal” mission, as as a child he spent summers in Sevastopol, the port Russia was allowed to retain after Ukraine’s independence as base of its Black Sea Fleet. He is adamant that the peninsula, illegally annexed by Putin in 2014, will be recaptured and is scathing about those who “foolishly” argue that Ukraine should not provoke Russia for fear of escalating the war.
What about the risk of nuclear weapons? “It’s alarmist,” he says.
“Nuclear weapons are not weapons – they are deterrents. And Russia knows perfectly well that it cannot use them.
“If you study when they started threatening them, you’ll see a clear correlation: when things are going badly for them, they start shouting, ‘We can use nukes.’
Budanov is the man accused by Russia of the explosion this month on the bridge to Crimea, a key supply route for Putin’s forces in southern Ukraine.
Budanov declines to comment on this attack or previous attacks on military targets in Crimea, but adds: “What happens, happens. We are at war with the Russian Federation. We use all means to bring about his defeat.
He says Putin’s recent annexation of Kherson, claiming it as part of Russia as Ukrainian forces advance on the city, underscores questions about his mental well-being. “That sounds ridiculous,” he said. “They are grandly annexing it to Moscow when they know they are going to lose it.” So my question is: Is Putin okay? And is it really Putin? It might even be someone else. There have been previous claims that Putin may have had cosmetic surgery as well as recent rumors that he was battling a serious illness and even cancer.
In July, a Ukrainian intelligence official claimed that Putin may have sent a look-alike in his place for a visit to Iran. It is suspected that former Kremlin leaders such as Josef Stalin and Leonid Brezhnev also used body doubles as decoys.
Budanov believes that Ukraine’s early release of Kherson will raise major questions in Russia: “How come Ukraine – a place they have no respect for and never believed to be even a country to be taken seriously – takes territories from the Russian Federation? This situation, we believe, would have serious consequences for opinion within society.
He admits that Ukraine has undercover agents in Russia. “Yes, of course we did,” he said, adding that “the majority of our activity is aimed at the Chechen Republic.” savage wars, is led by a brutal ally of Putin. Last week, the Kyiv parliament recognized Chechnya as occupied territory.
Budanov is convinced that not only will Ukraine win this war, but Putin will be ousted from power and this conflict will change the future shape of Russia.
He says the sooner Ukraine restores its borders to what they were in 1991, “the sooner Russia will rebuild itself.” It will be a different country with different leadership with different borders.”
I asked one last question on behalf of a Ukrainian friend: who was his favorite 007? “Sean Connery,” he replies instantly. I suggest it could be the modern version of Ukraine. “Thank you,” he says, smiling – even though no future movie would be called From Russia With Love.
Additional reporting: Kate Baklitskaya