Russian dictator Vladimir Putin’s unprovoked and bloody invasion of Ukraine has raised questions about his health in the West — and according to one mysterious Russian source, Putin may be about to undergo a major operation to fight off cancer.
According to a report by the U.K newspaper The Mirror, Putin is planning to hand over power to former KGB counterintelligence officer turned security secretary Nikolai Patrushev while he’s under the knife.
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Patrushev was a key figure in planning the unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and a humiliating defeat for Russia outside Kyiv.
The rumor originated in the General SVR Telegram channel, a social media platform that first claimed Putin was battling serious health issues 18 months ago.
“Putin has discussed that he will be undergoing medical procedures, the date of which is being discussed and agreed,” the report claimed.
“There seems to be no particular urgency, but it cannot be delayed either.”
“The Russian President Vladimir Putin has oncology, and the latest problems identified during [his latest] examination are associated with this disease,” the anonymous insider claimed, and said Putin is suffering from “Parkinson’s disease and schizoaffective disorder.”
There is no confirmation that the health report is true, however recent photographs of the Russian strongman seem to hint that Putin is battling at least one type of serious health issue.
“What if, all of a sudden, Putin manifests particularly severe health problems?” the anonymous Telegram channel source speculated. “We know very well that he has cancer, and Parkinson’s disease, as we have said many times. It was possible to contain it for some time, but now the course of the disease is progressing.”
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There is also speculation that Putin could soon declare all-out war on Ukraine and begin drafting young Russian men to escalate his bloody invasion. Western intelligence speculates that Putin could use the May 9 Russian “Red Victory Day” holiday to announce a full mobilization.
From the West, the list of arms flowing to Ukraine’s armed forces is long and growing longer. It includes new American battlefield aerial drones and the most modern U.S. and Canadian artillery, anti-tank weapons from Norway and others, armored vehicles and anti-ship missiles from Britain, and Stinger counter-air missiles from the U.S., Denmark, and other countries.
If Ukraine can hold off the Russians, its accumulating arsenal of Western weapons could have a transformative effect in a country that has, like other former Soviet republics, relied mainly on arms and equipment from the Soviet era.
Despite its early failings, the Russian military still holds some advantages that will be put to the test in the eastern Donbas region, where they are assembling more combat troops and firepower even as the U.S. and its NATO allies scramble to get artillery and other heavy weaponry to that area in time to make a difference.
With the war’s outcome in doubt after two months of fighting, the Pentagon is providing 90 of the U.S. Army’s most modern howitzers, along with 183,000 rounds of artillery — and other sophisticated weaponry that could give the Ukrainians an important edge in looming battles.
The U.S. also is arranging more training for Ukrainians on key weaponry, including howitzers and at least two kinds of armed drone aircraft.
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The Ukrainians are asking the Biden administration for even more, including long-range air defense systems, fighter jets, tanks, and multiple-launch rocket systems.
“It will be true to say that the United States now leads the effort in ensuring this transition of Ukraine to Western-style weapons, in arranging training for Ukrainian soldiers,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said, adding, “and I only regret that it didn’t happen a month or two months ago from the very beginning of the war.”
The Horn editorial team and the Associated Press contributed to this article