Is Putin sick? Does Vladimir Putin really have terminal cancer, and why is Russian President's health in question?

The health of Russian President Vladimir Putin, the man behind the invasion of Ukraine, has been repeatedly called into question – but why are some people claiming Putin has cancer, and what have news outlets reported about his health?

In a fresh twist, Russia’s foreign minister has rubbished claims his boss is seriously ill.

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The denial follows claims over the weekend – reportedly made by a Russia agent – which suggested the Russian President, 69, only has three years to live.

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The reports claimed Putin is losing his vision and increasingly suffering from headaches.

But Mr Lavrov said: “He appears in public every day. You can watch him, read and listen to him.

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"I don’t think that sane people can see signs of some kind of illness or ailment. I leave it to the conscience of the liars.”

It is certainly not the first time the President’s health has been called into question.

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Is Putin sick? Does Vladimir Putin have terminal cancer, and why is Russian President's health in question? A man finishes glueing huge placards bearing images of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the city centre of Simferopol, Crimea, on March 4, 2022. (Photo by STRINGER / AFP) (Photo by STRINGER/AFP via Getty Images)

Just earlier in May, former UK government intelligence official Christopher Steele suggested that Mr Putin is now “constantly surrounded by doctors”.

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How have rumours about Vladimir Putin’s health developed?

Vladimir Putin's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine turned Russia into a pariah state, sparking rafts of sanctions and international condemnation.

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The invasion itself has not been so-far the success Putin appeared to have hoped for.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council via teleconference call at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow, Russia, on March 3, 2022. (Photo by Andrey Gorshkov / SPUTNIK / AFP) (Photo by ANDREY GORSHKOV/SPUTNIK/AFP via Getty Images)
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And now some observers – experts and social media users – have suggested that the Russian president’s health is failing.

Earlier this year, the Daily Telegraph published a piece entitled Five reasons to suggest ‘puffy-faced’ Putin could be seriously ill.

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The Daily Star splashed with the headline Mad Vlad ‘dying of cancer’. And The Sun asked, Is Vladimir Putin ill?

Where are these rumours coming from, and have they been substantiated?

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Does Vladimir Putin have cancer?

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The claim that Putin has cancer and that his condition prompted the invasion of Ukraine was made by a senior Royal Navy admiral in March.

Speaking to children at Portsmouth Grammar School on March 4, former pupil and Falklands veteran Rear Admiral Chris Parry said: “He has been using these very long tables to interview people.

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“I think his immune system might be suppressed at the moment. So he is a man in a hurry."

The remarks - referring to bizarre pictures of Putin meeting French President Emmanuel Macron across a huge table – were reported by our sister title, The Portsmouth News.

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Parry continued: "What I think will happen is he will occupy Ukraine to the east of the Dnieper [river], he will totally occupy this region known as “New Russia” across the bottom of the country, cutting Ukraine off from the Black Sea, and he will leave that rump of the north west, to the west of Kyiv, to it’s own devices as long as it stays neutral."

There has been no official confirmation, at home or abroad, about the state of Putin’s health.

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Why do people think people think President Putin is ill?

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The Daily Star quotes an unnamed US intelligence source supporting the claims about Putin’s health who claimed his ‘puffy face’, seen in recent photographs, is a side-effect of chemotherapy drugs or steroids.

The ex-military intelligence officer now working at the Pentagon told the Reach title that analysts have been studying Putin, 69, and believe he is gravely ill.

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The source said: “In the past we have seen him smile, but in 2022 there are few pictures of him looking happy.

"His look suggests he is in pain and our people suggest his angry look is most likely as a result of him being in agony.

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“Our people are confident he is ill – he is concerned about Covid as he keeps his staff at a distance.”

The Sun quoted social media observations that the Russian leader looks ‘ashen and bloated’ in official pictures released by the Kremlin.

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Putin has built an image as a strong man figure leading Russia, and has posed for pictures competing in judo, and shirtless on a horse.

But on March 1, official pictures of the president meeting St Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov sparked fresh claims about his health.

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What have experts said?

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Fiona Hill, a senior fellow in the Center on the United States and Europe in the Foreign Policy program at Brookings, was quoted by Politico saying: "Putin’s not looking so great, he’s been rather puffy-faced.

"We know that he has complained about having back issues. Even if it’s not something worse than that, it could be that he’s taking high doses of steroids, or there may be something else. There seems to be an urgency for this that may be also driven by personal factors.”

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Hill, who served as national intelligence officer for Russia and Eurasia at The National Intelligence Council, continued: “He may have a sense that time is marching on — it’s 22 years, after all, and the likelihood after that kind of time of a Russian leader leaving voluntarily or through elections is pretty slim.

"Most leaders leave either like Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko thought that he might leave, as the result of massive protests, or they die in office.

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“The only other person who has been Russian leader in modern times longer than Putin is Stalin, and Stalin died in office.”

Republican senator Marco Rubio is another prominent figure who has claimed ‘something is off’ with President Putin.

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Mr Rubio is the ranking Republican member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Senator Rubio said: "I wish I could share more, but for now, I can say it’s pretty obvious to many that something is off with Putin.

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"He has always been a killer, but his problem now is different and significant."

Mr Rubio later added Mr Putin "appears to have some neuro/physiological health issues."

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The Daily Mail reported Senator Rubio saying ‘[Putin] is older now. His time is running out on this earth. He knows that.”

Have Putin or the Kremlin responded?

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The Kremlin does not routinely comment on Vladimir Putin’s health and have not responded to these most recent claims which emerged since conflict broke out.

The Kremlin did previously rubbish previous claims that Putin was suffering from Parkinson’s disease as ‘absolute nonsense’.

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In November 2020, Professor Valery Solovei – a former historian at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations – reportedly said Putin was suffering from both cancer and Parkinson’s.

His conclusion was that the President would have to quite over health fears. The Kremlin denied the claims and Professor Solovei was later detained at a protest in Moscow.

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