Putin health fears: President looks puffy faced as actions driven by personal factors

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As Moscow’s war against Ukraine rages on, attention has been drawn to physical signs of Putin’s ill-health. Russia expert Fiona Hill, who has worked for a number of US political administrations, said the actions of the Russian President, who turns 70 later this year, may have ben inspired not just by his “electoral calendar” but his body and health calendar.

Ms Hill told POLITICO 70 may not be old for politicians but “it is old for Russians”.

She said: “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.”

Ms Hill stressed these are not minor questions about health but suggest an “urgency”, noting these, combined with “personal factors”, could have driven – on continue to drive – Putin’s decisions.

She said: “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.

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

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Many reports in recent weeks have hi lighted – and often mocked – the great distances at which the President talks to other officials.

Before invading Ukraine, Putin met with Emmanuel Macron across an extraordinarily long table – 20 feet, according to CNN.

The paper added Mr Macron may have been pushed away because he refused to take a Russian Covid test.

But the same approach has been adopted for Putin’s meetings with his own, Russian officials, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

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This all feeds into the notion Putin is wary of his health (or, of course, the risk of assassination), or may already be suffering from a particular ailment.

Numerous reports have speculated the President is suffering from cancer, which could explain an additional fear of catching Covid.

These reports, however, remain unconfirmed.

Today, on the sixth day of his invasion, Putin was accused of committing “war crimes”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said there would “definitely be an international tribunal” for attacks he said were a “violation of all conventions”.

He added: “No on in the world will forgive you for killing peaceful Ukrainian people.”

Just a matter of hours later, footage emerged of what appeared to be a Russian strike on the centre of the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, reportedly targeted at its government headquarters.

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