Every year, Putin can expect to make an extensive list of foreign trips to conferences and meetings with world leaders. From Syria to Belarus, Belgium to Kazakhstan, Putin has traveled to the four corners of the Earth. And for those […]
Every year, Putin can expect to make an extensive list of foreign trips to conferences and meetings with world leaders. From Syria to Belarus, Belgium to Kazakhstan, Putin has traveled to the four corners of the Earth.
And for those who don’t know, this Russian President likes to travel in style – but above all, safety. Throughout history, powerful leaders have gone to extraordinary lengths to protect themselves from danger and their enemies.
Spies, bullet-proof vehicles and background checks on visitors are all routine measures employed by secretive security agencies dedicated to protecting the world’s elite.
For the Russian president Vladimir Putin, being able to travel safely to meet influential people around the globe is the top priority.
Combine every carefully thought-out precaution and an army of defenses and you’ll see how much work goes into protecting President Putin as he travels.
Since security is so important to the man who has experienced numerous assassination attempts, how exactly does he get around with a bit of peace of mind?
After a breakfast of quail eggs and coffee, and two hours of intense exercise to maintain his masculine image, Putin is escorted by armed guards, not to his car, but his helicopter.
It is not common for presidents to favor choppers over automobiles, but Putin is an exception, famously preferring to reach home destinations in Russia in the popular Mi-8 helicopter. In the spirit of showing up in style, Putin has been photographed sitting in the cockpit of one of his Mi-8 choppers, which itself lands in the Taynitsky Garden of the Kremlin.
While it is one of the most common helicopters on Earth, having been introduced during the Cold War and used for decades, Putin’s Mi-8 has its own uniqueness.
Featuring large club chairs, sofa seating, in-flight communications systems, a big TV and all kinds of home appliances — from refrigerators to coffeemakers, the presidential Mi-8 racks up a price tag exponentially larger than the base helicopter model, and there are at least two in Putin’s mystery fleet.
Where there are no helipads, there are roads, and Putin doesn’t compromise on comfort or security when traveling on four wheels.
His presidential limousine is one-of-a-kind and among the most luxurious and advanced on the planet. Imagine advanced security and communications features, bullet-proof windows, chilled champagne comparts and leather seating worth tens of thousands of dollars, all built into an Aurus Senat, formerly a Mercedes Benz S 600 Guard Pullman, and you’re getting close to the grandeur of Putin’s road procession.
This new Aurus Senat presidential limousine introduced in 2018, is a product of the project Putin had personally instigated to design a Russian-built car, rather than relying on foreign brands such as Mercedes, as he had done previously.
The car gives strong competition to the Beast, America’s Cadillac-branded Presidential Limousine. To give you an idea of how advanced this vehicle is, it is bomb and bulletproof from all angles, equipped with a myriad of communication devices and can drive 30 Kilometers at a speed of 80 kmph in the event that all four of its solid rubber tyres are blown out. Not to mention the automobile is airlifted to its start destination by equally well-protected aircraft.
Already background-checked and investigated by the Russian Federal Security Service, the driver of Putin’s limousine is highly trained and qualified, and getting to such a prestigious position is an ordeal itself.
To have even a meagre chance of being one of the president’s select ten drivers, the candidate will have to be completely skillful behind the wheel and work up the ranks, spending a fair period driving escort vehicles. It takes as long to become a presidential vehicle driver as it does to become a surgeon.
Weekly practices are held, and they encompass training for shooting and driving simultaneously, protecting the Russian president in the event of an emergency and driving in an explosion simulator.
Each procession is delicately planned right down to the last detail – what everyone is wearing, who will be near the Russian president, who has spent time near the vehicle in the past few days or weeks. Armed guards escort Putin to his vehicle and the area is scouted for any possible danger before he sets off. It is often rumored that the traffic is banned from coming anywhere near in order to clear the area, but they are actually just told to stay well to the right and out of the way.
Although Putin may be spoilt with private drivers and escort vehicles, he isn’t one to say no to getting behind the wheel. Mere publicity stunts, perhaps, but Putin has been seen driving a GAZ-21 with George Bush in 2006, a formula 1 race car at speeds near 240 kilometers per hour in 2010, and even a combine harvester in 2011!
And of course, what would a Russian president be without the classics?
Putin has a taste for old school Soviet cars, which isn’t hard to believe given that he worked as an agent in the KGB before his political career.
July 2018 was a scenic occasion, with the presidents of both Russia and the United States meeting in Helsinki. Putin rocked up making a scene with his Russian version of the American Air Force One, the star figure being his carefully engineered Ilyushin IL-96-300PU airliner.
Starting in the 1990s, modified IL-96s, built in Russia but allegedly using some parts made in England, have been flown as presidential aircraft.
Putin’s IL-96, or rather, his squad of IL-96s, is an engineering spectacle. Between the armed guards and high-tech security features, the Ilyushin IL-96 functions as an airborne office, providing crucial and immediate access to a control panel for the Russian president.
Overseeing the army, corresponding with intelligence and keeping an eye on nuclear weapons is part of the president’s job description, and the presidential IL-96 suits this purpose well.
If Putin needs to, he can command troop movements, speak with intelligence and launch nuclear missiles without stepping foot out of his luxurious cabin – the presidential air fleet includes an aircraft with equipment for monitoring and controlling Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal.
To add to this, the airplane has an array of computers able to send specially encrypted messages from any height at any location in the world. This ensures that the Russian president can communicate quickly with whomever he needs, with almost no chance of anyone but the intended recipient intercepting the messages.
So, if necessary, the Russian president can send orders to the armed forces or make international calls to foreign agencies while high in the air.
For safety and security purposes, the presidential IL-96 is intricately designed to withstand the intense stress of a sudden manoeuvre or emergency landing.
It is also speculated that Putin’s plane has a secret emergency escape capsule, which would allow the Russian president to escape the aircraft immediately and efficiently if anything went wrong while in the air. However, the design of this feature is not publicized for obvious reasons.
These well-thought-out measures ensure that there are always backup plans for nearly any emergency scenario, be it a natural disaster or an attack.
Finally, to round this all of this off, it isn’t known which of the four airplanes Putin will travel in until departure so that any kind of attack has a seventy-five percent chance of missing the chosen presidential aircraft.
Putin’s plane features a fully equipped gym and spacious bedroom, and the furniture is in the neoclassical style, with gold elements and white leather chairs.
Putin may have shown up with a highly advanced presidential airliner with an endless list of modifications, but the spotlight was stolen by Donald Trump’s Air Force One, which included a conference room, dining hall, and galley capable of preparing up to two thousand meals.
You’d have thought that the expenses of all the fine dining, lavish interior decorations, and escort vehicles would be enough, but for Putin, the show is far from over.
He may not use it often, but he likes to impress his friends on the 269-foot super yacht called Graceful, which has a crew of twenty-four, six luxurious cabins and two VIP staterooms.
Whether it’s by land, air or sea, Putin not only loves to travel in style but needs assurance of absolute control and security over his country.