| 2 February 2023, Thursday |

Air defence systems crop up near Putin’s forest palace, signalling Moscow fears a direct Ukrainian strike

In what is seen as a clear sign that Russia President Vladimir Putin fears a direct strike from Ukraine, air defences have been set up near his forest palace in Yascherovo. Earlier, reports suggested that missiles were deployed near his Moscow residence as well.

Yascherovo is a village that lies halfway between Moscow and St Petersburg, and a Pantsir-S1 defence system has been established near the Valdai presidential palace here.

The area near Putin’s official residence in Novo-Ogarevo has also seen the setting up of similar systems in the past week. These systems are reportedly supposed to protect Putin from Ukrainian drones or missiles.
The Pantsir-S1 and S-400 Triumf air defence systems have also been set up across Moscow to defend the city in case of a full-scale attack by Kyiv. The former is specifically tasked with protecting government and industrial facilities against aircraft, helicopters, precision munitions, cruise missiles and military drones.

“These air defence systems protect President Vladimir Putin and his family from a possible Ukrainian strike,” a report in Russian media outlet Agentstvo Novosti said.

“This conclusion can be drawn after the air defence system appeared near the Valdai presidential residence. There are simply no other sites for protection there, except for the residence,” it said.

The developments have reportedly been sparked following suspected Ukrainian drone attacks on two Russian air bases deep inside the country in December. Two nuclear-capable bombers were destroyed in the strikes.
The Pantsir-S1 defence system near the Valdai place is supposed to “protect him and his family” from long-range Ukrainian attacks, according to Agentstvo Novosti. The report further said that three servicemen are near the system at all times. It is believed to have a rotating radar antenna.

Putin’s 39-year-old rumured girlfriend Alina Kabaeva is known to frequent the palace quite a bit. Putin is believed to have young kids with her who have never been seen in public.

The roof of Russian defence ministry’s National Defence Management Centre on Frunzenskaya Embankment, the command centre of Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, has also been equipped with missile launchers.

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