Thursday, 7 July, 2022
HomeNews UpdatePutin treated for cancer, 'definitely sick' – US intelligence reports

Putin treated for cancer, 'definitely sick' – US intelligence reports

High ranking US military officials believe that “the end is near” for Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose health has been a subject of intense conversation for the past few months.

Recently, MedicalBrief reported that the leader has been “ remotely diagnosed in the Western media with enough grim diseases to fill a textbook and yet, somehow, staggers on”.

The 69-year-old was described by political commentators as “aged” and “ashen and bloaty”, with former British Foreign Secretary David Owen quoted as saying Putin’s “oval face” was a sign of steroid use.

The steroid use was believed to indicate that Putin had cancer, with an unnamed source – reportedly from the Pentagon – stating that Putin was dying of bowel cancer and that his “angry look is probably as a result of him being in agony”. There were, similarly, diagnoses of Parkinson’s Disease.

Now, a classified US report says Putin seems to have re-emerged after treatment in April for advanced cancer, three US intelligence leaders who had read the reports told Newsweek.

The assessments also confirm that there was an assassination attempt on Putin’s life in March, they said.

The high-ranking officials, who represent three separate intelligence agencies, are concerned that Putin is increasingly paranoid about his hold on power, a status that makes for a rocky and unpredictable course in Ukraine. But it is one, they say, that also makes the prospects of nuclear war less likely.

“Putin's grip is strong but no longer absolute,” said one. “The jockeying inside the Kremlin has never been more intense during his rule, everyone sensing that the end is near.”

All three officials – one from the office of the Director of National Intelligence, one a retired Air Force senior officer, and one from the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) – caution that the Russian leader’s isolation makes it more difficult to precisely assess Putin’s status and health.

“Putin has had few meetings with foreign leaders,” one said, cutting off the insights that can sometimes be gained in face-to-face encounters. “His isolation has thus increased levels of speculation.”

A picture of manhood

Horseback-riding, hockey-playing Putin has been the image of masculinity and vitality for years, a persona carefully curated by official Moscow and one often used by Kremlin propagandists to contrast the Russian leader with his American counterparts.

Then came the very long table Putin used in the Kremlin to record the photo ops of his important meetings, one that came to symbolise his paranoia and physical fear.

The table most recently was the venue for Putin’s meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on 7 February, just two weeks before the Ukraine invasion. For the intelligence community, the long table and Putin’s behaviour with Macron became a baseline against which to measure the Russian President’s decline.

“There was no shaking of hands, no warm embrace, and we noticed that,” said the DNI leader. Then came Putin’s 21 April meeting with Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, this time at a small table. Putin was far from a picture of health, slouching in his chair and gripping the table with his right hand.

Some observers inferred he had Parkinson’s disease. Others insisted it was just his KGB weapons training, always with the right arm ready to reach inside a jacket for a gun. The video was scrutinised by intelligence community analysts, some trained in remote diagnosis and others in psychiatry. The consensus was that Putin was ill and probably dying. He seemed to be putting on a good show. But perhaps the isolation of COVID had masked a decline that was only now more vividly being exposed.

The 9 May “Victory Day” appearance was next, where a noticeably bloated Russian leader sat slumped. His health, and his inability (or reluctance) to declare victory in Ukraine went together. The US intelligence community said his situation was graver than previously thought, and his physical exhaustion was matched by Russia’s own exhaustion.

Three days later, Ukraine’s head of intelligence Major General Kyrylo Budanov told Sky News that Putin was in a “very bad psychological and physical condition and very sick”, adding there were plans inside the Kremlin to overthrow the Russian leader.

A rumour that Kremlin security people had uncovered a Russian plot to assassinate Putin was confirmed at this time.

When serious intelligence started to circulate about Putin’s illness, US leaders were cautioned not to jump to conclusions too quickly.

The senior Air Force leader told Newsweek: “Is Putin sick? Absolutely. But we shouldn’t let waiting for his death drive proactive actions on our part. A power vacuum after Putin could be very dangerous for the world.”

The US intelligence community’s latest assessment was a turnaround for the Russian leader after the previous report, two weeks earlier, which portrayed him as gravely ill.

On 26 May, he made his first public visit to a Moscow military hospital. He had a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. And he spoke to a Russian business conference via video. Each appearance was closely scrutinised.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed any notion of Putin being sick in an interview on French TV last weekend.

“I don’t think a sane person can suspect any signs of an illness or ailment in this man,” Lavrov said, citing Putin’s recent public appearances.

“Lavrov’s insistence that everything is normal is as much a declaration of allegiance to Putin as it is any kind of diagnosis to be listened to,” said the DIA official, who added that Putin continues to be “challenged” both health-wise and in his leadership.

After this story was published, the National Security Council sent Newsweek a statement: “Reports that any such intelligence community assessments exist or that they have been briefed to the president are not true.”

Is Putin fighting off Kremlin opponents and warring with his own intelligence agencies? Is he indeed dying? What – or who – comes next? These are the issues with which the Biden administration is grappling even as it publicly insists the rumours are just rumours.

“Even if they agree the intelligence (that Putin is dying) is reliable,” the senior DNI leader said, “they can’t bank on an expiration date nor signal their support for a Russia without Putin.

“A nuclear-armed Russia is still a nuclear-armed Russia, whether Putin is strong or weak, in or out, and not wanting to provoke him or his potential successor into thinking we are hell bent on their destruction is an important part of continued strategic stability,” he added. "Putin being sick or dying is good for the world, not just because of the future of Russia or ending the Ukraine war, but in diminishing the mad man threat of nuclear war.

"A weakened Putin, an obviously declining leader, not one at the top of his game, has less influence over his advisers and subordinates, say, if he orders the use of nukes.”

A damaged Putin (and here the official mentions Donald Trump as a similar example), “one who might not be in control of all of his faculties, just doesn’t have that kind of sway”.

“Putin is definitely sick … whether he’s going to die soon is mere speculation. Still, we shouldn’t rest assured. He's still dangerous, and chaos does lie ahead if he does die. We need to focus on that.”

 

Newsweek article – Exclusive: Putin Treated for Cancer in April, U.S. Intelligence Report Says (Open access)

 

See more from MedicalBrief archives:

 

Remote medical diagnoses: Putin has Parkinsonʼs and Biden has dementia

 

World leaders who have to prove they are not dead

 

Thousands of Parkinson’s patients initially misdiagnosed

 

Big data, lab science suggests drug may slow Parkinson’s progression in people

 

Russia’s once-derided vaccine may garner diplomatic dividends

 

 

 

 

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