As President Vladmir Putin approaches his 70th birthday this year, there has been growing, unsubstantiated media speculation that he may be unwell maybe with cancer.
CIA Director William Burns asserted on Thursday, July 21, that there was no evidence to support this and quipped that he was “too healthy.”
Mr Burns stressed at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, “There are lots of rumours about President Putin’s health and as far as we can tell he’s entirely too healthy,”
Responding with laughter, he clarified that this was not a formal intelligence assessment.
On Thursday, the Russian stated denied reports of the president’s illness.
Dmitry Peskov, the spokesperson for Mr. Putin, told reporters on Thursday, “In recent months, Ukrainian, American and British so-called information ‘specialists’ have thrown around various fakes about the health of the president. But it is nothing but fakes.”
Mr. Burns, who served as ambassador to Moscow, said he had been closely watching and dealing with Russian President Vladimir Putin for more than two decades.
The CIA director stated, Vladimir Putin is “a big believer in control, intimidation and getting even” – and these characteristics have hardened over the last decade as his circle of advisers has shrunk.
“He is convinced that his destiny as Russia’s leader is to restore Russia as a great power. He believes the key to doing that is to recreate a sphere of influence in Russia’s neighbourhood and he cannot do that without controlling Ukraine.”
In November, Burns visited Moscow to warn of the dire repercussions of invading Ukraine in light of information the US had gathered regarding Russia’s plans. The CIA director, however, claimed he was “more troubled than when I arrived” when he left.
According to Burns, the Russian president’s strategy was founded on “profoundly flawed assumptions and some real illusions especially about Ukraine and the will to resist”.
“Putin really does believe his rhetoric. I’ve heard him say this privately over the years that Ukraine is not a real country.
“Well, real countries fight back. And that’s what the Ukrainians have done.”
According to Mr Burns, the US estimates that Russian casualties in Ukraine have totaled around 15,000 killed and possibly 45,000 wounded.
He went on to say that Russia’s current concentration of forces in the Donbas indicated that the military had learned tough lessons.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, fraudulently claiming that Russian-speakers in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region had been subjected to genocide and required liberation.
Russia has taken over portions of the east and south of the nation, although it has now declared that its primary goal is the so-called “liberation” of the Donbas after not being able to hold territory over Kyiv as originally planned.
John Kirby, the spokesman for the National Security Council, however, at a press conference at the White House, recently revealed Russia’s plans to annex more territory in Ukraine.
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