Vladimir Putin has been accused of using a body double in his recent public appearances amid growing speculations of his failing health. On Tuesday, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Major General Kyrylo Budanov said he is convinced the Russian leader has been deploying body doubles to avoid getting exposed to the public as a means to preserve his image of being in perfect health.

In a recent appearance on a Ukrainian TV channel, Budanov pointed out quite a number of differences in Putin’s appearance, his habits and even his height. He did not clearly provide concrete evidence to back up his unsubstantiated claims but he continued to say that Putin’s mannerisms and his gait have changed if one is to closely observe him, New York Post reported.

"The picture, let's say, of the ears, is different. And it's like a fingerprint, each person's ear picture is unique. It cannot be repeated," Budanov claimed.

Another local Ukraine news outlet TSN cited the intelligence officer’s strong belief that Putin is seriously ill amid several televised appearances of the leader looking tense and shaky. Video clips of the leader also captured him gripping tables and chairs during televised meetings and most recently his arrival at the Mehrabad airport in Iran for a scheduled meeting with Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Putin was caught on video wobbling down the red carpet as he stepped off his jet, shuffling with a seemingly limp arm. Talks on Putin's health have intensified since his invasion of Ukraine leading to speculations of the leader suffering from Parkinson's disease, cancer or early onset of Alzheimer's. 

On July 22, it was reported that Putin’s doctors were called to his bedside after the leader was said to have suffered an episode of severe nausea overnight. The General SVR channel said Putin required urgent medical care and then claimed that the Kremlin has decided to have a double replace Putin in some events in the coming weeks. Ukrainian Major General Vadym Skibtisky also validated this claim by saying the leader uses a lot of doubles.

“Sometimes it is difficult to detect if it is the real Putin or someone replacing him," the general said.

Vladimir Putin Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the State Awarding Ceremony at the Grand Kremlin Palace, June,12,2022, in Moscow, Rusia. Russia Day, celebrated annually on 12 June since 1992, commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of State Sovereignty of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR). Photo by Contributor/Getty Images