Putin making increased use of armoured train to avoid detection

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Vladimir Putin is using an armoured train to travel instead of planes. The Russian president started travelling by rail in the second half of 2021 as Russia’s army started to prepare for the invasion of Ukraine.

The firm which owns the armoured train used to belong to the nephew of Yuri Kovalchuk, who is the main shareholder of Rossiya Bank and a close friend of Putin’s, according to the Dossier Centre, which tracks the criminal activity of people associated with the Kremlin.

The Dossier Centre cites an acquaintance of Putin who told the publication that the latest version of the train was fitted in 2014-15 though Putin reportedly started using it before Russian troops were sent to the border with Ukraine.

Putin is believed to use the train because it cannot be tracked whereas aircraft can be monitored using a number of trackers.

The special train is said to be almost indistinguishable from other Russian Railways trains with the same grey colour and red stripe.

Unlike regular passenger trains, Putin’s carriages are armoured and the timetable is adjusted so the Russian dictator can run at top speed without stopping.

According to the Dossier Centre, the train includes a carriage with a bedroom and study for Putin as well as one for attendants and another for “special communications”.

The train is pulled by two diesel locomotives with the rest of the carriages being ordinary compared to those used by the president and his entourage.

Former Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev used the train for a meeting in November 2019, with its existence not kept secret.


The source told the Dossier Centre only the Russian president and prime minister can use the train.

Putin’s train can be recognised due to the radio antennas visible on the roofs of a number of the cars.

These are reportedly covered by casings to hide them and make them more streamlined.

While passenger train carriages are usually four axle, Putin’s are six axle, of a type usually reserved for freight trains, according to the Dossier Centre.

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Mr Kovalchuk is believed to be one of Putin’s closest friends. They are said to have met in the early 1990s when Putin was at the St. Petersburg mayor’s office.

He now manages the Russian leader’s unofficial residences as well as running an airline and servicing a number of Putin’s yachts.

Meanwhile, former Italian premier Silvio Berlusconi has blamed Ukraine’s president for Russia’s invasion, putting him at odds with Premier Giorgia Meloni’s support for Kyiv.

Mr Berlusconi, whose party is part of Meloni’s right-wing coalition government, is a long-time friend and ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He said the war in Ukraine “would have never happened” had Zelensky “ceased attacking the two autonomous republics of Donbass”.

The former premier said he judged Mr Zelensky’s behaviour “very negatively” and criticised Ms Meloni for meeting with him, telling reporters on Sunday that he wouldn’t have done the same if he were premier.

His remarks prompted a swift rebuttal from Ms Meloni’s office, which said the Italian Government’s support for Ukraine is solid and unwavering.

Her office said support for Ukraine is clear in both policy and in parliament, manifesting itself in weapons deliveries to Ukrainian forces.

Ms Meloni met with Mr Zelensky on the sidelines of a summit in Brussels last week. She plans to travel to Ukraine before the anniversary of the war on February 24.

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