Russian President Vladimir Putin received treatment for advanced cancer in April, three US intelligence officials have told Newsweek.
Amid ongoing speculation about the 69-year-old Russian leader’s health, an assessment by the intelligence service in Washington reported him recovering from cancer treatment he underwent two months ago, Newsweek reported.
The intelligence report also confirmed an assassination plot against Mr Putin in March, the organisation said.
The high-ranking officials – one from the office of the Director of National Intelligence, one a retired Air Force senior officer, and one from the Defense Intelligence Agency – who saw the classified report told Newsweek they fear Mr Putin’s paranoia about staying in power may make things worse for Ukraine.
But it is also what may deter him from launching a nuclear war.
“Putin’s grip is strong but no longer absolute,” said one of the senior intelligence officers. “The jockeying inside the Kremlin has never been more intense during his rule, everyone sensing that the end is near.”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently addressed widely spready rumours that Mr Putin was suffering from cancer.
Responding to France’s broadcaster TF1, Mr Lavrov said: “I don’t think that sane people can see in this person signs of some kind of illness or ailment.”
He went on to claim that Mr Putin, who turns 70 in October, appears in public “every day” before adding: “
“I leave it to the conscience of those who spread such rumours.”
Rumours have been swirling in the past few months that Mr Putin was suffering from cancer or was in bad health as pictures of him in a debilitated state emerged. One image shows him holding on to a conference table with his right hand as he slouches in a chair.
An unnamed oligarch was recently recorded saying the 69-year-old Russian President is “very ill with blood cancer”, according to New Lines magazine
And it has been widely reported that the FSB, Russia’s state intelligence agency, was told not to speculate about the leader’s health – something which had the opposite effect and plunged the rank-and-file into rumours, according to Russian investigative outlet Proyekt.
Other intelligence sources cited in Western reports have suggested that he may be ill now. Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, claiming on television that Mr Putin has cancer “and other illnesses” and was in a “very bad psychological and physical condition”.
Ashley Grossman, a professor of endocrinology at Oxford University, told New Lines that Putin had developed a “Cushingoid” appearance which is “compatible with steroid use”.
He highlighted that steroids can be prescribed for some forms of blood cancer, and also that a high steroid dose would make a person more susceptible to catching Covid-19, following reports that Putin was very wary about catching the disease for several years.
However, no clear and incontrovertible evidence has been presented of any specific claim regarding Mr Putin’s health.