Despite a nuclear threat broadcast on Sunday about the Ukraine crisis, Putin has not been seen in public for nearly two weeks.
Speculation on the well-being of Russian president Vladimir Putin has deepened ahead of a key meeting today.
A pre-recorded video of Putin warning that he was prepared to put his country on nuclear alert was broadcast yesterday, but he has not been seen in public or on live television since March 5.
A meeting is due to take place in St Petersburg today between the presidents of Russian and Kyrgyzstan, so all eyes will be on the city to see if Putin appears.
Putin’s apparent disappearance has prompted a wave of speculation about what has happened to him, despite official insistence that it was business as usual in the Kremlin.
The independent news broadcaster Dozhd said the Kremlin had declined to comment on its report that Putin had not been in Moscow but in Novgorod province, at his Lake Valdai residence, for the last several days.
An Austrian newspaper reported that Putin was suffering from back problems, and that a Viennese orthopaedic expert had travelled to Russia to treat him.
It has also been claimed Putin, last seen in public on March 5, is in Switzerland attending the birth of his child by Alina Kabaeva, 32. She allegedly gave birth to a girl with Putin, 62, at her bedside.
Despite the lack of public appearances, Russian has still made a number of military announcements in the last few days.
Today it was reported Putin had ordered the Navy’s Northern Fleet and paratrooper units to be on full alert as part of snap military exercises, according to the Russian defence minister.
The tests were due to include nearly 40,000 servicemen, 41 warships and 15 submarines, RIA reported.
And yesterday admitted he was ready to place his nuclear attack forces on alert when he seized Crimea last year – but only in a pre-recorded interview.
He claimed Russian people In Crimea were “in danger” and added: “We cannot leave them.”