Reports have long emerged the Russian president is hiding a serious illness, with rumours the president has cancer and has been regularly visited by oncologists. The rare public appearance and video of Putin speaking to Sergei Shoigu sees the Russian premier claim his forces have “liberated” the besieged city of Mariupol on the coast of the Black Sea in Ukraine.
However, Putin’s ailing posture has catalysed rumours his health is fading as a weakened posture and apparent bloating in his face and neck suggest not all is well for the leader.
During the video, Putin congratulated Mr Shoigu over the ongoing “special operation” in Ukraine, but in a rare admission of caution, stated an operation to invade an industrial area in Mariupol had been cancelled over fears of losing more soldiers and equipment.
Yet, analysis of the video shows an uncomfortable Putin who at times can be heard slurring his words.
The president can also be seen gripping the table, whilst constantly tapping his foot as if in discomfort.
Although the rumours about cancer are yet to be confirmed, one side effect of combining steroids with chemotherapy can lead to water retention and bloating and could explain the swelling around Putin’s face and neck.
Reports have suggested Putin is “constantly” accompanied by a doctor specialising in thyroid cancer.
Surgeon Yevgeny Selivanov, of Moscow’s Central Clinical Hospital, has flown to the Russian leader no less than 35 times in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, his favourite place of residence.
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Professor Erik Bucy, a body language expert from Texas Tech University, told The Sun “It’s an astonishingly weakened Putin compared to the man we observed even a few years ago.
“An able-bodied president would not need to keep himself propped up with a hand held out for leverage and would not be concerned about keeping both feet planted on the ground.
“This is not a portrait of a healthy Putin but one appearing increasingly feeble and barely able to hold himself upright at a small conference table.”
Ukrainian journalists have also jumped on the video in light of Putin’s apparent health scare.
Illia Ponomarenko, a reporter for the website The Kyiv Independent said on Twitter: “Is this just me or does Putin really look less healthy and sound with each and every day of the war?
“I can see a drastic difference between now and late February.”
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CNN’s Frida Ghitis also commented on Putin’s appearance.
She said: “Putin, sinking in his chair, gripping the table.
“He’s okay, right? Healthy?”
And Louise Mensch, an author and former member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, linked to an article she wrote last month speculating Putin may be hiding an illness.
She said: “I reported, Vladimir Putin has Parkinson’s disease and here you can see him gripping the table so that his shaking hand is not visible but he cannot stop his foot from tapping.”
No official reports have been released by Russian sources confirming or denying any illness the president may be suffering.