Vladimir Putin, 69, ‘has two secret sons with his gymnast lover Alina Kabaeva, 38’, says source



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Vladimir Putin has two secret sons by his gymnast ‘lover’ Alina Kabaeva, according to a new report today.

The first boy was born in secrecy in Switzerland amid huge security in 2015, according to a source linked to the obstetrician who was at the birth.

The second son was delivered in Moscow in 2019 with the same specialist flying to Russia for the birth, according to an investigation by Swiss broadsheet newspaper Sonntagszeitung.

The Russian leader, who will be 70 this year, has since 2007 denied a relationship with Olympic gold-medal winning Kabaeva, now 38.

He has hidden his alleged secret family from voters – and was not present at either of the births.

The report confirms strong rumours over a Putin-Kabaeva family, except in suggesting there was one son born in 2019 rather than twins.

It also indicates that Kabaeva is the secret Russian first lady at a time when the country is suffering major losses from the war with Ukraine.

Alina Kabaeva shakes hands with Vladimir Putin during a meeting with other gymnasts in the Kremlin. Putin has, since 2007, denied having a relationship with the Olympic gold-medal winner

Putin awards Kabaeva with the 'For Merit to the Fatherland' order in 2005 in Kremlin, Moscow

Putin awards Kabaeva with the ‘For Merit to the Fatherland’ order in 2005 in Kremlin, Moscow

The source of the new report – published today – is said to be a personal friend of Kabaeva who also knows the obstetrician, an unnamed Soviet-born medic acquainted with Putin for more than three decades and a long-time Swiss citizen after emigrating from Russia.

The paper reported: ‘Our source says clearly: “Alina’s relationship with Putin existed. Their children – two sons – are Putin’s children. Alina had no other relationship. That would have been too dangerous for her”.’

The female doctor works at Clinica Sant’Anna in the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland where the first child was born.

The obstetrician had ‘maintained a trusting relationship with Putin’, said the report.

‘You had to keep the whole thing very discreet,’ the newspaper was told.

Contrary to gossip in 2015, Putin was not present at the birth which – at the time – the Kremlin denied.

There was also only one Putin-Kabaeva child born in Switzerland, said the source.

By the ‘president’s decision’, the second son was born in Moscow.

The same Russian emigre Swiss obstetrician delivered the second son in Moscow in 2019.

Before the birth, Kabaeva had traveled in secret to Lugano several times.

The source described Kabaeva as ‘a very pleasant woman.

‘She is a real sportswoman, very straight, without posturing.

‘She came with her mother and sister, but without bodyguards.’

Despite this, a blanket of secrecy was thrown over the births.

Putin hands Kabaeva a bouquet of flowers on the day she received the 'For Merit to the Fatherland' order in 2005

Putin hands Kabaeva a bouquet of flowers on the day she received the ‘For Merit to the Fatherland’ order in 2005

Kabaeva had also travelled multiple times to Switzerland before starting her relationship with Putin, believed to be in 2007.

She was an ambassador for Longines watches from 1999 to 2008.

Recently, rumours suggested that she and her suspected young children were hiding out from the war at a reclusive Swiss chalet.

However ten days ago – after a four-month absence from the limelight – she reappeared in Moscow.

There are indications she has spent time near Geneva at the Cologny residence of Gennady Timchenko, 69, an oligarch very close to Putin.

Timchenko’s representatives refused to comment to the Sunday newspaper.

Swiss government representatives say there is no indication Kabaeva has been in the country recently.

The young woman identified as Putin's daughter, known as both Elizaveta Krivonogikh and Luiza Rozova

The young woman identified as Putin’s daughter, known as both Elizaveta Krivonogikh and Luiza Rozova

A video shows Kabaeva in May 2015 – which at the time sparked rumours of pregnancy – at her annual gymnastics show for children called ‘Alina 2015’.

At the time she said: ‘The children performed brilliantly.’

Putin has two officially acknowledged children — Maria, 37, and Katerina, 35, both from first wife Lyudmila.

Dr Maria Vorontsova – a year younger than Kabaeva, who was born when the Russian president was a KGB spy in Germany – is an expert in rare genetic diseases in children.

She is a leading researcher at the National Medical Research Center for Endocrinology of the Ministry of Health of Russia.

Her divorced sister Katerina is deputy director of the Institute for Mathematical Research of Complex Systems at Moscow State University.

She is a former high-kicking ‘rock’n’roll’ dancer.

Both daughters have been sanctioned by the West, unlike Kabaeva, and Putin’s unacknowledged ‘love child’ Luiza Rozova, 19.

Luiza is the daughter of cleaner-turned-multimillionaire Svetlana Krivonogikh, 45, now part-owner of a major Russian bank, one of the country’s wealthiest women with an estimated £74 million financial and property fortune.

Kabaeva used the build-up to last weekend’s ‘Alina 2022’ show in Moscow to make her first appearance in public since the war started in Ukraine.

This followed rumours she had been hiding in Switzerland – or in a hi-tech Siberian nuclear bunker.

At the show itself she was filmed in front of the ‘Z’ symbols of Putin’s troops, which critics have likened to a swastika symbol.

Putin pictured alongside Kabaeva at a gymnastics festival in Russia in 2001

Putin pictured alongside Kabaeva at a gymnastics festival in Russia in 2001

She wore a £1,915 from a British-based designer as she led a patriotic-themed gymnastics ballet in which she linked the defeat of Hitler’s Nazis to the Russian fight against Ukraine.

The event included some of the Soviet Union’s most patriotic songs in a celebration of the country’s victory over the Germans.

The theme at her annual festival was unmistakably intended to boost patriotic support for Putin’s military adventure in Ukraine.

She wore a wedding ring and a fluid silk fuchsia midi dress from the new collection of London-based Alessandra Rich who has previously supplied David Cameron’s wife Samantha – for a state occasion with President Barack Obama – and a host of A-listers.

Russians were struck by Kabaeva’s new look last weekend, sparking rumours of recent cosmetic surgery.

Russian Cosmopolitan said ‘something has really changed in Kabaeva’s face’, adding that ‘the legendary athlete was noticeably prettier’.

Avoiding linking her to Putin, it said of a woman widely believed to be Russia’s unofficial first lady: ‘Alina Kabaeva is one of the most mysterious and secretive women in our country.

‘The gymnast almost never appears in public, does not [appear in] social networks, and it is not possible to accidentally see her on the street or in shopping centres.’

Telegram channel Tol’ko Nikomu – also choosing its words carefully to avoid the Russian censor – hinted that she and Putin share the same plastic surgeon.

‘A new rare appearance of Alina Kabaeva. This time she is dressed casually – and is again seen with a wedding ring.

‘And yes, the handwriting of the family beautician is quite notable.’

Alina Kabaeva at the 2015 'Alina' gymnastics festival on May 21, 2015, in Moscow, Russia

Alina Kabaeva at the 2015 ‘Alina’ gymnastics festival on May 21, 2015, in Moscow, Russia

Jailed Putin foe Alexei Navalny has demanded sanctions against Kabaeva.

He singled out Kabaeva’s National Media Group arguing that it was likely owned by Putin – who will be 70 this year – personally.

Her salary here has been estimated at almost £8 million a year, compared with the average annual figure of £5,600.

Navalny posted from jail: ‘I want to remind you that the National Media Group, which owns the lion’s share of this apparatus of lies, undoubtedly belongs to Putin personally, and as such is even formally headed by Putin’s mistress Alina Kabaeva.’

He called her a Putin propagandist and said she should be treated as a ‘war criminal’.

Kabaeva has kept a low profile in the Ukraine war – but her media has been vocal in cheerleading for Putin.

Soon after the war started, a petition called on the Swiss authorities to send her packing back to Russia.

‘It’s time you reunite Eva Braun with her Führer’, said the petition.

Rumours first linked her romantically to Putin as long ago as 2008 when she was a pro-Kremlin MP.

The newspaper printing the story was rapidly closed down.

Putin alongside Kabaeva at another event held at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia

Putin alongside Kabaeva at another event held at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia

Putin – who in 2013 announced his divorce from wife Lyudmila, a former Aeroflot stewardess – has previously said: ‘I have a private life in which I do not permit interference. It must be respected.’

He deplored ‘those who with their snotty noses and erotic fantasies prowl into others’ lives’.

Kabaeva is on record as saying she had met a man who ‘I love very much’, gushing: ‘Sometimes you feel so happy that you even feel scared.’

In 2001 Kabaeva was temporarily banned from competing in rhythmic gymnastics after failing a doping test.

A year earlier she had won gold at the 2000 summer Olympics.

Once regarded as Russia’s most eligible woman, her only other suitor has been a married Georgian policeman, according to media reports.

This relationship petered out in 2005 amid complaints of tabloid intrusion into her life.

She once posed almost nude for Maxim and was described as ‘full of sex’ by a photographer.

There have been many reports of her wearing a wedding ring, but no records of a marriage.

She is reported to have a fleet of Maybach limousines at her disposal, and was seen surrounded by a squad of machine-gun toting security guards on visits to a Moscow cafe, likely indicating she qualifies for state-level security.

Many Russians saw her as the reason for the breakup of Putin’s marriage to ex-first lady Lyudmila, 63, mother of his two adult daughters.

The dictator of neighbouring Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko hinted that Putin’s divorce decision came about because Kabaeva ‘put pressure on the president’. 

Brutal sect of Chechens executed RUSSIAN troops in Ukraine: Kadyrovtsy fighters shot wounded comrades dead at ‘field hospital’ and operated a torture chamber near Bucha where civilians were massacred, claim witnesses

By Kaya Terry 

A brutal sect of feared Chechen soldiers executed ‘heavily wounded’ Russian troops in a ‘field hospital’ that was situated northwest of Bucha, eyewitnesses have claimed.

The Kadyrovtsy, who have been used as a PR tool in Vladimir Putin’s war, allegedly murdered their own comrades and ‘operated a torture chamber’ in a glass factory on Yablonska Street – confirming previous reports by Ukraine’s ombudsman for human rights, Lyudmila Denisova.

Artem Hurin, a member of the city council of the neighboring town of Irpin who also serves as a deputy commander in Ukraine’s Territorial Defense Forces, was one of the first to visit Borodyanka, northwest of Bucha, after the Putin’s soldiers retreated last month when Ukrainian forces recaptured the town on April 2.

He said: ‘They would bring heavily wounded Russian soldiers to a big hospital they had there, and those who were very heavily wounded, they would just shoot them. No one other than the Kadyrovtsy did this.’ 

Hurin recalled the litany of horrifying stories from residents who were tortured and raped by lawless Russian troops and saw evidence of ‘executed civilians’ who lay dead on the street, the Daily Beast reports. 

According to residents of the town, the killer squad of Chechen fighters – known as Kadyrovtsy – had executed people as early as March 5. 

The revelations came as Ukraine said the first group of civilians were safely evacuated from the steel plant in the besieged city of Mariupol on Saturday night.

A Ukrainian fighter, who had sheltered in the network of underground rooms and tunnels located underneath the factory since mid-April, said a group of around 20 women and children had managed to get out – but a reported 1,000 people are currently still stuck underneath the plant.

Sviatoslav Palamar, Azov regiment deputy commander, told Reuters: ‘We are getting civilians out of the rubble with ropes – it’s the elderly, women and children.’

A brutal sect of Chechen soldiers executed 'heavily wounded' Russian troops in a hospital that lies northwest of Bucha , witnesses have claimed. Pictured: A group of Chechen fighters have been seen on video wildly firing heavy machine guns towards residential buildings in Ukraine's besieged city of Mariupol

A brutal sect of Chechen soldiers executed ‘heavily wounded’ Russian troops in a hospital that lies northwest of Bucha , witnesses have claimed. Pictured: A group of Chechen fighters have been seen on video wildly firing heavy machine guns towards residential buildings in Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol

The Kadyrovtsy, who have been used as a PR tool in Vladimir Putin's war, allegedly murdered their own comrades and 'operated a torture chamber' in a glass factory on Yablonska Street

The Kadyrovtsy, who have been used as a PR tool in Vladimir Putin’s war, allegedly murdered their own comrades and ‘operated a torture chamber’ in a glass factory on Yablonska Street

Collapsed building is seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

Collapsed building is seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

Pictured: The feared Chechen unit - known as Kadyrovtsy - in Mariupol holding firearms in front of a burning building

Pictured: The feared Chechen unit – known as Kadyrovtsy – in Mariupol holding firearms in front of a burning building 

Kadyrovtsy speaker (pictured in the centre) filmed a video in Mariupol last month and said: 'An order to destroy and purge Mariupol is fulfilled. The order of president Putin is fulfilled, the order of Kadyrov is fulfilled'

Kadyrovtsy speaker (pictured in the centre) filmed a video in Mariupol last month and said: ‘An order to destroy and purge Mariupol is fulfilled. The order of president Putin is fulfilled, the order of Kadyrov is fulfilled’

The Chechen military is known for its Hollywood-inspired videos claiming to show their soldiers in action, while actually showing them doing very little. Experts say the videos are just another branch of Putin's propaganda efforts

The Chechen military is known for its Hollywood-inspired videos claiming to show their soldiers in action, while actually showing them doing very little. Experts say the videos are just another branch of Putin’s propaganda efforts

President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) is pictured earlier today with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) before their meeting in Kyiv

President Volodymyr Zelensky (right) is pictured earlier today with US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi (left) before their meeting in Kyiv

One woman recalled how she endured four days of torture by one Kadyrovtsy soldier and one Belarusian soldier before they brutally shot her husband in the head.

Meanwhile, the Bucha Mayor, Anatoliy Fedoruk, claimed Chechen troops tied white bands around prisoners’ arms who were captured, which were similar to those found on the bodies of executed civilians in the city.

Opening up about civilians who attempted to leave their homes to get food and water, Hurin added: ‘They didn’t allow them to do anything. There they just killed people through binoculars for example. They just shot them.’ 

Many Chechen soldiers were fighting alongside the Russian military, which waged two wars against Chechnya – a Muslim republic in southern Russia – between 1994 and 2000. 

As the towns around Kyiv which were recaptured by Ukrainian forces have revealed horrific atrocities, with the bodies of hundreds of dead civilians piled up after Putin withdrew his band of thugs.

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers arrive at an abandoned building to rest and receive medical treatment after fighting on the front line for two months near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine on April 30

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers arrive at an abandoned building to rest and receive medical treatment after fighting on the front line for two months near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine on April 30

One woman recalled how she endured four days of torture by one Kadyrovtsy soldier and one Belarusian soldier before they brutally shot her husband in the head. Pictured: A wrecked bus is seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol

One woman recalled how she endured four days of torture by one Kadyrovtsy soldier and one Belarusian soldier before they brutally shot her husband in the head. Pictured: A wrecked bus is seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol

Pictured: Several Ukrainian soldiers line up at an abandoned building to rest and receive medical treatment near Kramatorsk on April 30

Pictured: Several Ukrainian soldiers line up at an abandoned building to rest and receive medical treatment near Kramatorsk on April 30

Russia has denied targeting civilians despite the many stories of gang rape, sexual abuse in front of children, torture and executions to emerge from the barbaric war. Pictured: Service members of pro-Russian troops drive an armoured vehicle during Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road outside the southern port city of Mariupol

Russia has denied targeting civilians despite the many stories of gang rape, sexual abuse in front of children, torture and executions to emerge from the barbaric war. Pictured: Service members of pro-Russian troops drive an armoured vehicle during Ukraine-Russia conflict on a road outside the southern port city of Mariupol

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers are seen unloading their guns to receive medical treatment on April 30 near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers are seen unloading their guns to receive medical treatment on April 30 near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine

Russia has denied targeting civilians despite the many stories of gang rape, sexual abuse in front of children, torture and executions to emerge from the barbaric war.

A United Nations mission to Bucha documented ‘the unlawful killing, including by summary execution, of some 50 civilians there’, the UN’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said.

Forensic tests carried out on civilian corpses dumped in mass graves in the Kyiv region show women were raped before being brutally killed.

Dozens of autopsies have been carried out on mutilated corpses from Bucha, Irpin and Borodianka, with many showing signs of torture and multiple bullet holes in the back.

Some have been so badly disfigured or even decapitated that investigators have been unable to identify them.

Vladyslav Pirovskyi, a Ukrainian forensic doctor who carried out the autopsies, told The Guardian: ‘We already have a few cases which suggest that these women had been raped before being shot to death. 

‘We can’t give more details as my colleagues are still collecting the data and we still have hundreds of bodies to examine.’

His team has been analysing 15 bodies a day, with most killed by automatic gunfire.

He added: ‘There are many burnt bodies, and heavily disfigured bodies that are just impossible to identify.

‘The face could be smashed into pieces, you can’t put it back together, sometimes there’s no head at all.’

The evidence has been passed on to the region’s senior prosecutor, Oleh Tkalenko, for further investigations.

This comes as a group of Chechen fighters were seen firing heavy machine guns towards residential buildings in Ukraine’s besieged city of Mariupol, on a video released on TikTok last month.

Aftermath image of the Drama Theatre in the encircled Ukrainian port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering on Wednesday March 16, 2022

Aftermath image of the Drama Theatre in the encircled Ukrainian port city of Mariupol where hundreds of civilians were sheltering on Wednesday March 16, 2022

Damaged buildings are seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

Damaged buildings are seen as civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from the Ukrainian city of Mariupol under the control of Russian military and pro-Russian separatists, on March 26, 2022

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers arrive at an abandoned building to rest and receive medical treatment after fighting on the front line for two months near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine on April 30

Pictured: Ukrainian soldiers arrive at an abandoned building to rest and receive medical treatment after fighting on the front line for two months near Kramatorsk, eastern Ukraine on April 30

The footage, shared by Kremlin-allied Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, also showed the Chechen soldiers seemingly celebrating as the camera panned to show the hollowed-out shells of destroyed apartment blocks.

The soldiers, dressed in camouflaged military gear, pumped their fists to the camera and could be heard shouting ‘allahu akbar’.

On his Telegram channel, Kadyrov claimed his fighters were clearing ‘the territory of the Nazis’ – parroting a line used by President Putin and his propaganda machine to justify the invasion of Ukraine.

Mariupol has seen some of the most intense fighting since Putin ordered his armies into Ukraine on February 24. Russian forces have been shelling the city indiscriminately, razing large swathes of the city.

Officials say at least 2,400 civilians have been killed in the southern port city, but it is feared that the true toll is much higher. One official said earlier this month that he feared as many as 20,000 people could have been killed.

The Chechen military is known for its Hollywood-inspired videos claiming to show their soldiers in action, while actually showing them doing very little. Experts say the videos are just another branch of Putin’s propaganda efforts. 

Kadyrov’s video also showed his soldiers climbing through the window of a building, seemingly to help a civilian out. However, while the soldiers were passing a mattress between then, the footage did not actually show anyone being carried.

Instead, one grinning fighter wearing sunglasses panned his camera around to show the scene of devastation around him, in a style that – anywhere else in the world – could be mistaken with a selfie-video from an Instagram influencer.

In a separate TikTok video released in March, Chechen special forces were filmed fighting house-to-house in besieged Mariupol while ‘hundreds’ of women and children remained trapped in the rubble of a city theatre destroyed by Russian invaders.

The footage, said to have been released by pro-Putin Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov, shows heavily armed fighters from the region pounding a high-rise building in the bombed-out city during a fierce gunfight with Ukrainian soldiers.

The propaganda video then cuts before showing some of the Chechen fighters emerging from the building with children in their arms while supposedly ‘liberating’ civilians.

The video emerged as hundreds of people were still feared trapped under the rubble of a theatre in the devastated city that has been obliterated by Russian forces who control the overwhelming majority of the city and are mostly focusing their airstrikes on the Soviet-era steel plant located close to the harbour, where a contingent of between 1,000-2000 Ukrainian soldiers are staging a desperate holdout alongside roughly 1,000 civilians.

Chechen troops have been embedded in the National Guard of Russia and have been fighting in Ukraine since the start of the invasion. 

Feared Chechen special forces are fighting house-to-house in besieged Mariupol while 'hundreds' of women and children remain trapped in the rubble of a city theatre destroyed by Russian invaders

Feared Chechen special forces are fighting house-to-house in besieged Mariupol while 'hundreds' of women and children remain trapped in the rubble of a city theatre destroyed by Russian invaders

Feared Chechen special forces shared a video in March showing them fighting house-to-house in besieged Mariupol while ‘hundreds’ of women and children remain trapped in the rubble of a city theatre destroyed by Russian invaders

The propaganda video then cuts before showing some of the Chechen fighters emerging from the building with children in their arms while supposedly 'liberating' civilians

The propaganda video then cuts before showing some of the Chechen fighters emerging from the building with children in their arms while supposedly 'liberating' civilians

The propaganda video then cuts before showing some of the Chechen fighters emerging from the building with children in their arms while supposedly ‘liberating’ civilians

The video released by pro-Putin Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov shows heavily armed fighters from the region pounding a high-rise building in the bombed-out city during a fierce gunfight with Ukrainian soldiers

The video released by pro-Putin Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov shows heavily armed fighters from the region pounding a high-rise building in the bombed-out city during a fierce gunfight with Ukrainian soldiers

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) switched into Russian in his nightly video address to urge Russian soldiers not to fight in Ukraine, saying even their generals expected that thousands of them would die

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) switched into Russian in his nightly video address to urge Russian soldiers not to fight in Ukraine, saying even their generals expected that thousands of them would die

One squad of Kadyrov’s fighters was reportedly sent to try and assassinate Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky, but was destroyed by Ukraine’s forces.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky switched into Russian in his nightly video address to urge Russian soldiers not to fight in Ukraine, saying even their generals expected that thousands of them would die.

He said Russia has been recruiting new troops ‘with little motivation and little combat experience’ for the units that were gutted during the early weeks of the war so these units can be thrown back into battle.

He said Russian commanders fully understand that thousands of them will die and thousands more will be wounded in the coming weeks.

‘The Russian commanders are lying to their soldiers when they tell them they can expect to be held seriously responsible for refusing to fight and then also don’t tell them, for example, that the Russian army is preparing additional refrigerator trucks for storing the bodies,’ Mr Zelensky said late on Saturday.

‘They don’t tell them about the new losses the generals expect. Every Russian soldier can still save his own life. It’s better for you to survive in Russia than to perish on our land.’

It comes as Sweden said a Russian military plane violated Swedish airspace. The incident happened late on Friday in the Baltic Sea near the island of Bornholm.

In a statement on Saturday, the Swedish Armed Forces said a Russian AN-30 propeller plane flew toward Swedish airspace and briefly entered it before leaving the area.

The Swedish Air Force scrambled fighter jets which photographed the Russian plane.

Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told Swedish public radio that the violation was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘unprofessional’.

In a similar incident in early March four Russian warplanes violated Swedish airspace over the Baltic Sea.

Sweden and neighbouring Finland are both considering Nato membership following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Moscow has warned that such a move would have consequences, without giving specifics.

Meanwhile, Russia has been forced to merge and redeploy depleted and disparate units from failed advances in northeast Ukraine, a British military update said on Saturday.

‘Shortcomings in Russian tactical coordination remain. A lack of unit-level skills and inconsistent air support have left Russia unable to fully leverage its combat mass, despite localised improvements,’ the military tweeted.

‘Russia hopes to rectify issues that have previously constrained its invasion by geographically concentrating combat power, shortening supply lines and simplifying command and control,’ it said.

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