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How the Ukraine War Could End: Is Putin Dying of Cancer?

Russian President Putin from back in 2018.

Is Vladimir Putin ill? – Is Russian President Vladimir Putin suffering from some sort of major illness? If he was sick does that mean the Ukraine war ends? 

There remains no official confirmation of this nor anything close to it, but some reports have trickled out in recent months indicating that that’s the case. 

What We Might Know About Putin – Kind Of?

In January, per The Daily Mail, Kyrylo Budanov, of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine, claimed that Putin is “terminally ill with cancer and will die very soon,” with a crony set to replace him once he passes. 

Budanov did not share any evidence of this, and such a claim coming from an intelligence officer on the other side of war should be taken with a grain of salt. But this is far from the first recent report about the state of Putin’s health. 

Back in November, The Sun reported, based on leaked emails from a Russian intelligence source, that the 70-year-old Putin is suffering from both prostate cancer and Parkinson’s Disease. 

“I can confirm he has been diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s disease, but it’s already progressing,” the insider said, per the Sun. “This fact will be denied in every possible way and hidden. Putin is regularly stuffed with all kinds of heavy steroids and innovative painkilling injections to stop the spread of pancreatic cancer he was recently diagnosed with.”

In addition, per The Sun,  ex-MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove has stated that the Russian leader “faces being sent to a sanatorium, and will be gone by 2023.” In addition, the Russian president has been seen recently with “suspected track marks” from IV treatments on his hands. 

The Sun also quoted political analyst Valery Solovey as stating that Putin is suffering from a “schizoaffective disorder,” in addition to cancer and Parkinson’s. 

The Kremlin has denied that Putin is ill in any way. 

A subsequent story by the New York Post reiterated the part about Putin’s hands, and also noted that the Russian president has made a habit lately of grabbing hold of tables. It also alleged that when the Kremlin has been releasing videos lately, they have been “numerous watermarks obscuring the view of the hand,” along with speculation that Putin hides his hands out of fear of being poisoned. 

Meanwhile, in December the Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainska Pravda reported, citing Danish intelligence, that the Russian president is “experiencing severe chronic pain after several falls and accidents,” although the Danish Military Intelligence Service does not believe Putin is suffering from a terminal illness and predicted that Putin will remain in power by the time of the 2024 Russian presidential election. 

That report also pointed out that there has been speculation like this about Putin before, including when he was thought to be suffering from the effects of falling from a horse, back in the 2000s. 

Ukrainian Pravda last year published a report claiming that Putin  “takes baths of reindeer horn extract,” but because the story was published on April 1 it may have been an April Fool’s joke. 

Budanov said that he hoped Putin’s health will lead to the end of the war in Ukraine. But if Putin is in fact looking at a bad health prognosis, it could cause him to determine he has nothing to lose. 

The Daily Star quoted a Kremlin Insider as stating that Putin is suffering from “weakness, dizziness, and lack of appetite,” which has left him despondent as the war drags on. 

“The war exists in the head of one terminally ill man with a disturbed psyche who is trying to take as many people as possible with him to a mythical ‘paradise’.”

Of course, it’s far from a rare occurrence for the opponents of a world leader to allege that that leader is in poor health.

That said, the most likely scenario is that there will be no transparency about the state of Putin’s health at any time in the foreseeable future. 

Stephen Silver is a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive. He is an award-winning journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

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Written By

Stephen Silver is a journalist, essayist, and film critic, who is also a contributor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review, and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.