How Ill is Vladimir Putin?
Prior to the First World War, the Ottoman Empire was described as the “sick man of Europe,” while during that horrible conflict, some in the German high command stated that having Austria-Hungary as their main ally was akin to being “shackled to a corpse.”
For the Allies, Russia was also a sick man, an empire on the verge of collapse – which finally occurred with the February Revolution of 1917 and then again with the October Revolution that same year.
Russia could now be described as the sick man of Europe, but it was a nation that was already being slowly brought to destruction by the policies of Vladimir Putin, even before the Kremlin launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine now over a year ago.
Is Putin Sick?
It was a back towards the end of last year that rumors circulated over the health of Putin, who was seen clutching a chair while his hand turned purple – suggesting that he could be suffering from a number of illnesses including cyanosis or Raynaud’s disease.
These are fairly common illnesses that affect those living in colder climates, and the conditions can be brought on by stress.
It would be impossible to think that Putin isn’t feeling a great deal of pressure from the state of the war in Ukraine.
However, the problem could be far worse, with speculation rampant that he may have pancreatic cancer or Parkinson’s disease.
Reduced Schedule for Putin?
Some experts are now suggesting that there is ample evidence that Putin is suffering from a serious ailment.
As previously reported, the Russian leader has canceled numerous important events over the last year or so, including an annual meeting with the press last year. Though it has been reported that Putin may have wanted to avoid taking difficult questions, it should be remembered this is a well-staged and choreographed event where the narrative is tightly controlled, so the chances of something going off script are minor. He is also an experienced politician well-versed in having key talking points ready for almost any question.
The same is true of his popular end-of-year program known as “Direct Line,” where he would speak to “average” Russian citizens and hear their complaints, and offer solutions to what often seemed like very small problems. This was another favorite of Putin as he was able to seem like a humble man-of-the-people – even if the calls were heavily screened.
Canceling those events where he is often seen as the savior of Russia and its people is quite significant.
The other notable event that was canceled was the annual exhibition ice hockey game on New Year’s Eve in Red Square, where Putin routinely showcased his virility and sportsmanship. Held every year since 2011, it allowed the Russian president to play alongside former NHL stars. It grew in popularity and was an annual fixture in the Russian calendar.
It is true that Putin is now in his 70s, and he was probably told to hang up the skates years ago by his doctors, but the fact that the event was canceled entirely seemed extreme. An argument could be made that Putin would appear weak if he was just a spectator or took part only briefly, so the entire match had to be scrubbed.
There were also reports that Putin fell down some steps at his official residence in Moscow towards the end of last year, and possibly soiled himself.
It should be remembered that the primary source of this news was an anti-Kremlin Telegram channel, but it seems that the fall did occur and has been shaken off by Moscow.
Such falls involving seniors are commonplace, so too much shouldn’t be made of it.
But when taken as a whole – from his appearance to the cancelation of meetings and other events – it is likely that Putin is suffering from something.
As noted, he is a senior who works long hours and is likely under a great deal of stress.
It is unlikely the world will know exactly how ill Putin is, at least until the news comes of his demise. It would be a surprise for Moscow to admit anything sooner. The question is what health will Russia be in when Putin’s clock stops ticking and his already cold heart stops beating?
MORE: Does Putin Have Cancer?
Author Experience and Expertise: A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.