Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Is Putin ill and what impact would this have on the war in Ukraine if he were?

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is Wladimir Putin unwell? Does he have Parkinson’s? Cancer? A chronic illness? Does he use body doubles? Could he even be dead?

When the war in Ukraine As progress has been made, rumors about Putin’s health have increased.

The world’s media has flooded pictures of him from Russian state television, trying to guess whether a tapping foot or a hand clinging to a table is a sign of illness.

Last summer, CIA Director William Burns joked that Putin was “completely too sane.”

Russian investigative websites have written about how Putin – in pursuit of better health – enjoys bathing in baths made from deer antler blood, which is said to improve circulation.

They also reported that he travels everywhere with a team of doctors, including a cancer specialist.

The Kremlin has been accused, without comment, of pre-taping Putin’s appearances and saving them for later release in order to give the impression that he is working in public.

Wilder theories speculate that Putin may already be dead. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy recently echoed this, saying he was “not sure the Russian President is still alive”.

I’ve spoken to Russians who genuinely believe their president has died and that a stand-in (or two) has taken his place.

All this speculation about Putin’s health doesn’t tell us much. But it tells us one thing – how little we know.

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In the UK, tThe public knew when then Prime Minister Boris Johnson was hospitalized with coronavirus.

In the United States, the White House announced when then-President Trump and current President Joe Biden fell ill. In Russia there are only rumors and secrets.

However, we do know that Putin’s concerns about his health appear to have increased since then the coronavirus pandemic.

I have seen Putin in person several times and spoken to him once. I sat with him in rooms that were sometimes smaller, sometimes larger – sometimes crowded with journalists or business people.

Main area for spread of infection.

During the pandemic, it was rumored that anyone visiting Putin had to quarantine for two weeks. It is still believed that anyone who approaches him must take a Covid test.

These days, Putin’s public appearances, broadcast on Russian state television, seem largely limited to addressing officials via video link or at the end of an almost impossibly long table.

When he visits factories or interacts with the public, it is usually in a large room at a distance.

Putin is portrayed on Russian state television as a man in control of Russian society, albeit increasingly at a distance.

When I recently asked Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, if the Kremlin was preparing for its 2024 re-election campaign, he told me it was “not an issue on our agenda.”

“Of course we all think about the future. But that’s not an urgent issue at the moment. We’re busy with other things,” Peskov told me.

One issue that the Kremlin is obviously concerned with is the war in Ukraine. Another is maintaining stability in Russia at a time of great upheaval: in the last year, Russia has been hit by Western sanctions and Putin has mobilized its people to fight in his war.

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