Vladimir Putin has a way of softening the edges of his otherwise iron-clad dictatorship by constantly surrounding himself with animals, but his most recent mammalian purchase has raised some questions.
Russia’s Ministry of Defence has purchased five dolphins – three male and two female – for the price of 350,000 roubles (approximately £3,600 per dolphin), or £18,000.Photo: Stringer/Getty
The dolphins are between three to five years old and were requested to have all their "teeth intact... of average length... no mucus from the blowhole." In other words, healthy and normal.
Combat dolphins have been utilised by the US and Russia in the past and were used to detect underwater mines, as well as trained to undertake other military tasks.
The dolphins will be taken to Sevastopol in Crimea, home to a Ukrainian military dolphin training facility - one of only two in the world - which was taken over by Russia during the annexation in 2014.
The Russian Ministry of Defence has not responded to media requests.