‘President Vladimir Putin is too healthy’ – CIA dismisses rumours that Russian president has an illness

Russian president Vladimir Putin is “too healthy”, the CIA has said, dismissing media speculation that the Russian president is suffering from ill health.

umours have circulated for months that the 69-year-old has a cancer diagnosis or Parkinson’s Disease after appearing unsteady in numerous public appearances.

William Burns, director of the CIA, said there was no intelligence to suggest the Russian leader was sick.

“There are lots of rumours about President Putin’s health, and as far as we can tell, he’s entirely too healthy,” said Mr Burns, adding it was “not a formal intelligence judgment”.

In the lead-up to the invasion and in the months that have followed, Putin has been portrayed as more eccentric and irrational.

Widespread speculation that he is sick, possibly with cancer, has continued to circulate as the war drags on.

The Kremlin also dismissed rumours on Thursday, saying that reports he was ill were “nothing but fakes”.

Suspicions about Putin’s health were reignited during his recent trip to Iran when commentators said he appeared to be limping at times with his arm hanging stiffly by his side as he disembarked the plane.

Putin coughed during a public appearance on Wednesday, when Interfax news agency quoted him as saying he had caught a slight cold during a visit to Iran the previous day.

“It was very hot in Tehran yesterday, plus 38 (degrees Celsius), and the air conditioning was very strong there. So I apologise,” Putin was quoted as saying.

Putin also appeared to have a bloated face and limp on the May 9 Victory Day parade.

He has been seen shaking and gripping onto tables and chairs for support.

At the time, an unnamed Russian oligarch, who claimed to have close ties to the president, told a US magazine that he was “very ill with blood cancer”.

Mr Burns, a former ambassador to Moscow, told the forum that Putin is “a big believer in control, intimidation and getting even”.

“He is convinced that his destiny as Russia’s leader is to restore Russia as a great power,” he said.

“He believes the key to doing that is to recreate a sphere of influence in Russia’s neighbourhood and he cannot do that without controlling Ukraine.”

Mr Burns said about 15,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in the war in Ukraine. Up to 45,000 more have been wounded, he said, citing the latest US intelligence on Russian losses. “Ukrainians have suffered, as well – probably a little less than that, but… significant casualties,” he added.

General Mark A Milley, the top US military officer, told reporters on Wednesday that Russian forces have taken just six to 10 miles of new territory in the past 90 days after focusing their efforts on seizing eastern Ukraine.

“The bottom line is, the cost is very high, the gains are very low, there is a grinding war of attrition,” he said. “Advances are measured in literally hundreds of metres” on some days, Mr Milley said.

The US is also considering sending more advanced weapons to Ukraine, amid Kyiv’s fears that Russian forces could get further entrenched if the war drags on into winter, making counter-attacks more difficult.

Those weapons could include warplanes, as US officials acknowledged that the U S and its allies are considering whether to provide Ukraine with new fighter jets, a move that would dramatically expand Western involvement in the war with Russia. 

The discussion marks a departure from earlier in the war, when the US ruled out facilitating a deal what would have sent some of Poland’s MiG fighters to Ukraine in exchange for US-manufactured F-16s. 

Officials in March said that participating in the swap could exacerbate tensions. 

© Washington Post

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