Putin allegedly prepared to leave Russia should he lose in Ukraine

LONDON: Russian President Vladimir Putin and his associates are "making plans to evacuate Russia" if his army is destroyed in Ukraine, According to a Telegram channel that purports to be from inside the Kremlin, a media said.

The Daily Mail stated that the Russian president is "conscious of the likelihood of a rapid change in mood in the country" due to  his Donbas offensive stagnating, Ukraine's plans to retake Kherson, and the collapse of his economy. Putin was reportedly hospitalised for three hours last week after experiencing "extreme nausea" overnight, according to the General SVR channel.

They allege that "Putin himself and his entourage are preparing plans for evacuation from Russia" in response to that report. As the closest friendly country and whose leader, Bashar al-Assad, Putin bailed out by engaging in the Syrian civil war in 2015, it is believed that any plane taking Putin and his family out of Russia will travel to Syria.

But any jet from Russia to Syria would have to pass through NATO member Turkey's airspace.

Putin's "quickest" and probably "only" escape option would be effectively thwarted if Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the strongman leader of Turkey, denied permission for the plane carrying Putin and his family to enter his airspace, according to the media site.

Erdogan and Putin have a complicated relationship since they have alternately been allies and adversaries over the past ten years as each president struggles to guide his or her nation through a difficult geopolitical region.  Another regional state that might be interested in Putin's destiny is Iran, a Western adversary.

According to the channel, "in theory, it is advantageous for Iran and Turkey to retain the Russian president in exile in reserve, utilising him, depending on the scenario, as a lever or as a negotiating chip."  Despite being a part of the Western military alliance, Turkey has "carved its own diplomatic road in international affairs" under Erdogan's leadership.

Putin visited in Tehran earlier this month with his Turkish and Iranian counterparts, presumably to talk about Syria.

The reports concludes that it is not unreasonable to assume that Erdogan and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi privately discussed the potential of Putin needing sanctuary from a coup or revolution at home.

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