Vladimir Putin has finally appeared in Moscow after the entire Russian Northern Fleet into action on a “training mission”. The exercise, which started at 8am this morning Moscow time, will last five days and involve 38,000 military personnel, 3,360 pieces of equipment, 41 ships, 15 submarines, and 110 aircraft.
The announcement was made by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, and was reported by the Russian governments foreign news-service, Sputnik News. He said: “The main task of the [combat readiness drill] is to assess the armed forces from the Northern Fleet’s capabilities in fulfilling tasks in providing military security of the Russian Federation in the Arctic region.”
He added: “New challenges and threats of military security demand the further heightening of military capabilities of the Armed Forces and special attention will be paid to the state of the newly formed strategic merging [of forces] in the North,”
Despite the Kremlin’s denials there were increasing concerns of something seriously wrong at the heart of the Russian government. Putin had not been seen in public for 11 days, and the Kremlin was exposed for trying to pass off old footage of him on Friday. NTV aired footage of the President meeting Vyacheslav Lebedev head of the Supreme Court, but the channel later claimed it had run the video “by accident”.
For days the media has been awash with rumours of what might have happened to Putin. The rumours were everything from a coup, to him visiting his newly born illegitimate child, and even hiding to deliberately cause confusion ahead of an invasion of the Baltic state of Latvia and Lithuania. None of the rumours had any real evidence to back them up.
This story was amended this reflect Vladimir Putin’s appearance at the Kremlin.