Russians Terrified by Putin’s Bunker Mentality as He Turns 70 With His Finger on the Nuclear Button

Louis M. Photo illustration by Rendon / The Daily Beast / Getty

Louis M. Photo illustration by Rendon / The Daily Beast / Getty

only a handful of people know the exact spot where President Vladimir Putin turns 70 in St. Petersburg on Friday, but critics say he spends much of his time isolating himself inside nuclear bunkers.

The Kremlin announced that Putin would spend his birthday working. Bogged down, as it is, t. In He’s His President’s Greatest Self-made Disaster, he only raises more disturbing questions about the kind of orders he’ll issue on the big day. Sitting in the corner, what is Putin thinking next?

Those who have known Putin for many years say that the Russian leader is “scared” and “stressed” these days; The political group speculates that Putin’s online telegram intends to “use tactical nuclear weapons from a bunker not far from Moscow” as Kremlinologists debate how to avoid impending doom.

Putin himself said he will respond to the sad daily news from Ukraine – where his army is losing defeat after defeat – with “all the tools at our disposal.” “It’s not a hoax,” he said.

In an alarming symbolic gesture, on Wednesday he promoted one of his closest and notorious allies, the leader of the Chechen Republic, now general, Ramzan Kadyrov. His promotion came just days after Kadyrov called for a more drastic escalation in Ukraine, including the declaration of martial law in Russia’s border areas and “the use of low-yield nuclear weapons”.

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Russians are increasingly concerned about their leader’s mood.

In his latest public appearance, Putin’s eyes looked sunken and veiled. He talked to a group of teachers from a small office on Zoom. The idea was to celebrate “Teachers’ Day” on Wednesday – but Putin couldn’t help but brag about the so-called “neo-Nazis” in Ukraine.

“That part looked really crazy,” Vitaly Shatrov, a 17-year-old schoolboy from St. Petersburg, told The Daily Beast. “Putin, who compares Hitler to violence against many Ukrainians, talks to teachers in some Nazi bunkers.”

Shatrov is so concerned about the nuclear escalation that he clings to the idea of ​​peace talks, as suggested by Pope Francis and Tesla boss Elon Musk, who have been ridiculed for suggesting that Ukraine has indeed conceded defeat. “I’m afraid of nuclear war. No politician in the world can appease Putin. Instead, everyone laughs at him, threatens him, so he gets even crazier about the upside-down world he created.

One thing is clear: Putin has a wide choice of bunkers to retreat to. One of his favorite hiding places is in the Altai Mountains. Any taxi driver in the remote Ongudesky region near the Mongolian border will show you the way to “Putin’s bunker” or Altayskoye Podvory. During the pandemic, locals told the Daily Beast about the president’s helicopter that was regularly seen in the air over the mountains. Locals talk about a huge underground bunker where all members of Putin’s family, as well as employees of Gazprom and the Kremlin, could hide from radiation in the event of a nuclear attack, but like most of the security apparatus of the president, which was never officially confirmed. It didn’t happen

About 1,600 km from Moscow, in the Republic of Bashkortostan, in the Southern Urals, there is another famous hiding place. Construction of this vast bunker network began under Boris Yeltsin, but the project was put on hold after the collapse of the USSR. Western spies have suggested that the vast underground complex could house between 100,000 and 300,000 people; Others have suggested it was a nuclear command post or a secret weapons depot.

Putin’s whereabouts are often the subject of attraction in Russia. It is difficult to trace his whereabouts when holding meetings on Zoom, but during the pandemic it became clear that he has at least two similar offices, one in Moscow and the other at his residence on the Black Sea in the city of Sochi. .

Gennady Gudkov, a former Russian MP in exile, told the Daily Beast that the president was taking precautions as the war in Ukraine was spinning out of control.

“Putin will hide in a bunker in the event of a nuclear war,” he said. “But he’s not safe there either; He will be destroyed – this is what Biden now has to make clear to Putin.

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Putin’s aides say the president’s nuclear threats are over-explained outside the country, but blame the West. “Russia will attack only in response to an attack. Deciding to use nuclear weapons is complicated, it involves a lot of people and none of them are Kadyrov, “pro-Putin political analyst Yuri Krupnov told the Daily Beast.

He said the average Russian, even in the elite class, knows he will have no security if a nuclear conflict breaks out. “No bunker will certainly help Moscow. Perhaps only the rulers have adequate shelters ”.

Veteran human rights defender Valentina Melnikova, who helps Russian families survive draft, said she is not so convinced that the world is safe from nuclear war. “I am sure that our generals are capable of bombing Kiev and Washington with torpedoes and nuclear bombs. I say this because I know the Russian military well: it will obey every order from Putin and there is probably only one thing that can stop this calamity right now.

Many more Russians are starting to think the unthinkable.

Perceptions have changed a lot over the past two decades. At the beginning of Putin’s regime, some Russians would have thought that a journalist like Anna Politkovskaya might have been killed in central Moscow. Yet it happened – on Putin’s birthday – in 2006.

People’s understanding of what Putin can do is changing faster and faster.

A year ago, most citizens did not believe that the Kremlin would launch a full-scale attack on a neighboring country like Ukraine. Even then they were certain that there would be no mass mobilization, but, once again, it is happening.

The Russians have always been afraid of a nuclear war, but most of them never thought their homeland would start one.

They are not so sure now.

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