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Vladimir Putin: Sick with Cancer, Parkinson’s Disease or Just Crazy?

Russia T-14 Armata. Image Credit: Creative Commons.
Russian Armata T-14 Tank. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

How Sick is Vladimir Putin?Rumors continue to circulate that Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin is not a “well-man,” and that his time on this earth could soon be coming to an end. The official line from the Kremlin is that Putin, who will turn 70 in October, is in good health, yet that could likely be the propaganda machine working overtime. Even before he ordered the unprovoked attack on Ukraine in February, there had been speculation regarding Putin’s health – with reports suggesting he is suffering from blood cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and certainly paranoia.

According to Newsweek this week, a classified U.S. report stated that the Russian leader had received treatment for advanced cancer in April; and this month, Ukraine’s intelligence chief, Major General Kyrylo O. Budanov told western media that Putin was “very sick” with cancer and other illnesses.

Bundanov has not been alone in making the bold suggestion that Putin is in ill health. In a new documentary that is available via the Paramount+ streaming service, Putin is described essentially as a ruthless, greedy, sociopathic monster. Putin only cares about his own power, wealth, and legacy as a titan who united and restored the glory of Mother Russia. Secrets of the Oligarch Wives features interviews from a collection of women with ties to powerful Russian men, including two “oligarch wives,” and they describe Putin as suffering from a serious illness.

Exactly what is largely unknown, but Putin has limited his public appearances, while his daily schedule remains somewhat secretive. In addition, Putin has scaled back on photo-ops that show him riding horses or playing hockey. Part of that is that is likely due to his advancing age, but questions linger if it isn’t something far more serious.

The War Will Be His Undoing

The war in Ukraine is likely taking a heavy toll on Putin, and even if the rumors of his impending demise have been greatly exaggerated, the Russian leader’s adventure in Ukraine could still be his undoing. It was just last week that exiled Russian billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky said he believed that the war in Ukraine would lead to Putin’s “demise.”

That assessment is shared by some inside the Biden administration.

“Putin’s grip is strong but no longer absolute,” said a senior intelligence official with direct access to the classified U.S. report. “The jockeying inside the Kremlin has never been more intense during his rule, everyone sensing that the end is near.”

Yet, Putin has remained defiant, and on May 9, 2022, during the annual Victory Day parade, Putin stated boldly, “The defense of our motherland when its destiny was at stake has always been sacred,” adding, “We will never give up.”

So far Russia has faced the western sanctions, while Putin has seemingly hidden the Kremlin’s reversals in Ukraine from the Russian people. The “special military operation” is still being cast as heroic and just, and for Putin victory is likely the only publicly acceptable outcome – even if achieving that has become increasingly impossible.

Should Putin survives a military loss in Ukraine, and isn’t actually dying from an unknown illness his reputation may still be completely tarnished. It is rare today for any world leader to be the butt of a joke, yet on Sunday, leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) wealthy nations openly mocked the “macho” image of Putin. During a photo-op, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked if the leaders should take off their jackets, or disrobe further as a nod to how Putin has been pictured shirtless in photos released by Russian state media.

“We all have to show that we’re tougher than Putin,” Johnson quipped, receiving laughter from some of his colleagues.

“Bare-chested horseback riding,” responded Canada’s Justin Trudeau, while European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen added, “Oh yes. Horseback riding is the best.”

Now a Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes.

Written By

Expert Biography: A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.