What is Putin Afraid of? – As the leader of the free world, the president of the United States often travels in a number of vehicles – ranging from an armored limousine to a highly customized Boeing 747-200B (VC-25A) aircraft, known officially as “Air Force One” when the president is on board.
Putin Might Have a Lot to Worry About…Hence the Bullet-Proof Train…
Of course, it is widely known that President Joe Biden‘s preferred mode of travel was by train, and perhaps he may envy Russian President Vladimir Putin, who now only rides the rails to get around his country.
In fact, Putin seems to have taken a playbook from other dictators and despots, and prefers to travel by a special armored train on a purpose-built railway line.
The choice of transport is similar to those employed by Russian Tsars at the end of the 19th century, and which is still used by North Korea’s Kim Jong–un.
Nazi Germany’s Adolf Hitler also traveled by a customized train, which had strangely been named the Amerika.
At the same time, Yugoslavian dictator Tito also opted to only travel via a private luxury train.
Putin’s Private Trains
All of Putin’s main residences are now connected to railway lines, with secret stations being built so that the Russian leader can limit his time in the air, according to a report by the Proyekt (Project) investigative news outlet.
Though Putin has apparently tried to stay on the ground, at least a few of those private train stations – all heavily guarded – are also equipped with helipads to allow other officials to fly in to meet with him.
Putin began to use the trains to travel around Russia to avoid tracking services, but also out of fear of being attacked while in the air.
“After the outbreak of the war, in February-March , he began to use the [armored] train very actively, especially to get to his residence in Valdai,” the Dossier Center investigative website quoted an unnamed source close to the Kremlin as saying Monday. The Dossier Center is funded by exiled former oligarch and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, The Moscow Times reported.
Putin: Special Trains Hiding in Plain Sight?
The reports suggest that Putin’s armored trains are essentially indistinguishable from regular trains – apart from it having a larger number of locomotives, while the presidential cars have encased communication antennas.
The train is outfitted with a luxury car that includes a private bedroom, and a study for meetings.
Putin’s entourage is able to travel in an additional car, while the train also includes a special communication car – which functions much like the advanced communications suite on board the Boeing 747-200B used by the U.S. president.
The train apparently employs a schedule that is tailored to allow it to travel at maximum speeds and avoid unwanted stops.
Production of the train and private lines began in 2014, and Putin began actively using the train in the late summer of 2021.
This is hardly the first armored train to travel across Russia.
As noted, the Tsars often traveled in special railway cars, while armored trains – known as Zaamurets – were employed on both sides during the Russian Civil War.
The Bolshevik’s Red Army employed the trains in a number of battles – notably the defense of Tsaritsyn (modern-day Volgograd), where 15 heavily armed and armored Zaamurets operated on several local railway lines.
While serving as the Soviet People’s Commissar of Defense, Leon Trotsky used an armored train formerly built for Tsar’s ministers of communication to visit key areas during the Russian Civil War. The train was outfitted with a telegraph station, a library, a printing house, a radio station, and an electric power station.
At the same time, it was defended by machine guns and heavy guns.
Putin’s train may not be quite the rolling fortress, but it is still likely well-defended, and just as Air Force One serves as the White House in the sky, the Russian leader’s train is his mobile Kremlin.
Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism.
He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.