There have been rumors and speculation for some time that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s health is in decline, possibly due to cancer, and that his condition has only grown worse under the stress of his ongoing invasion of neighboring Ukraine.
A recent report suggested that Putin will soon undergo surgery and be forced to temporarily transfer power to another top official, but a Defense Department spokesman insisted Monday that the U.S. government was unable to confirm or deny the assertion, the Washington Examiner reported.
Pentagon can’t “corroborate” reports on Putin’s health
The claims about the Russian leader’s alleged impending surgery appear to have originated from a Russian Telegram account known as “SVR General” and were in line with previous reports about Putin allegedly suffering from cancer from a Russian investigative journalist outfit known as The Project.
During Monday’s Pentagon briefing, spokesman John Kirby was asked by a reporter to address those claims that Russian President Putin would be forced to temporarily cede control to another top official, a former FSB general, while undergoing and recovering from the surgery.
“I have seen nothing that could help us corroborate that. No. Afraid not,” Kirby replied before quickly moving on to another question.
New boss as bad as, if not worse than, the old boss
The New York Post reported Monday that the “SVR General” Telegram account, supposedly run by a former intelligence service operative, claimed over the weekend that Putin would soon have to undergo surgery on a doctor’s orders and, as such, would have to temporarily shift all power over to somebody else while he was incapacitated.
That somebody else is reported to be Nikolai Patrushev, head of the federal police’s Security Council, who could hold power over Russia for as many as two to three days.
The Telegram account’s report described Patrushev as being an “outright villain” who was just as bad as Putin himself, if not even worse, as he was actually “more cunning” and “insidious” than the Russian president.
Reports and appearance suggest Putin is sick; Kremlin denies claims
Meanwhile, the Post further reported that, according to Russia’s The Project, Putin is believed to have been suffering from some form of cancer over the past few years that, despite numerous attempts at treatment, has only grown progressively worse, as evidenced by his increasingly frail and gaunt appearance and “uncharacteristically fidgety behavior” in recent videos.
That investigative outlet, citing various governmental records, including hotel lodging accounts, claims that a well-known Russian oncologist, along with other doctors, has made dozens of secretive visits to Putin’s home in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi and that Putin actually underwent surgery in secret last year, apparently to no avail.
The investigative reports further assert that Putin has increasingly turned to alternative or homeopathic remedies favored by tribes in outlying rural regions of Russia, such as a practice dating back to at least medieval times of bathing in the blood of freshly cut deer antlers, which is believed by some to have certain restorative properties.
However, The Moscow Times reported in April that the Kremlin strongly denies the claims about Putin’s alleged ill health, and spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports that Putin had undergone surgery for thyroid cancer on one of those Sochi trips as being “fiction and untruth.”