Russia’s Vladimir Putin is avoiding taking any trips out of the country because he no longer feels safe following repeated Ukrainian drone attacks and an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court, according to several new reports.
On Wednesday, Russian state media reported that Putin will not be attending Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan’s inauguration, sending State Duma chairman Vyacheslav Volodin instead.
Nor will Putin be attending an upcoming summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization in India that was initially meant to be in person. Organizers of that summit on Tuesday announced that the format would be switched to virtual, with The Hindu reporting that “scheduling difficulties” were behind the change. The decision also may have been motivated by Putin’s presence threatening to “cast a shadow” over the event, according to the publication.
An unnamed high-ranking Russian official cited by the independent outlet Verstka said Putin’s decision to stay within Russia’s borders was likely due to the Hague’s order for his arrest. The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president in March, accusing him of war crimes for the forced deportation of children from Ukraine.
Recent drone attacks on Moscow have also left Putin spooked, according to the source.
The feeling “behind the scenes of the Kremlin,” the source said, was that Putin was worried about traveling anywhere: “He has no sense of security.”
While the Kremlin played down this week’s drone attack on the Russian capital, The Moscow Times reported Wednesday that Putin was most likely in his Novo-Ogaryovo residence when air defenses shot down a drone that was heading for it just a few miles away.
A source close to the Kremlin told the news outlet that the Russian leader was awakened early by his security team in the middle of the attack.
Ukrainian authorities have not been shy about their hopes to assassinate the Russian president, with the deputy head of intelligence confirming earlier this month that Putin is at the top of their hit list.
Pressure is also building in connection with the Hague’s arrest warrant: Opposition groups in South Africa have demanded that their government detain Putin if he attends the BRICS summit to be held there in August.
While South African authorities announced that they would grant “immunity” to attendees of the summit, they cryptically added that the immunity does not “override any warrant that may have been issued by any international tribunal against any attendee of the conference.”
Meanwhile, billboards have reportedly been erected in South Africa telling President Cyril Ramaphosa to “arrest Putin.”