Putin caught in FURIOUS outburst that Russia tried to hide as mercenary army plan revealed

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He said sanctions could “screw themselves” when asked about their effect back home, seemingly losing his cool as he answered.

And it”s clearly rattled the Kremlin, because the comment is already missing from an official transcript of his speech.

Putin also played down Russian counter-sanctions against the West as merely “measures to defend the economy.”

And they won”t be confined to Russia, with the contracts allowing recruits to tackle “international terrorist activities”.

It”s unnerving timing, with now mounting.

Russian foreign affairs expert Vladimir Frolov told the Moscow Times what the contracts were about.

He said: “I think this is about turning private contractors into active duty soldiers.

“This allows those killed or wounded in action to receive the benefits they were promised.

“It also gives the Defence Ministry more flexibility in hiring people for short-term deployments overseas.”

Military expert Vadim Kozyulin told the English-language newspaper the contracts were likelier about tempting back veterans.

He said: “I think many retired military personnel are not willing to rejoin, but would be ready to have a brief and well-paid vacation abroad.

“They don”t want routine service at a remote base somewhere, but would be happy to join a real a thrilling mission that could bolster the family finances.”

Russia”s current short-term military contracts mandate a minimum of six to twelve months service, but the change would mean any length below six months could be allowed.