'I am sure Putin has cancer and will die soon', Ukraine spy chief says

5 January 2023, 18:19

Mr Budanov hopes Putin will die soon
Mr Budanov hopes Putin will die soon. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Vladimir Putin will die "very quickly" having fought with cancer for a long time, Ukraine's head of defence intelligence has claimed.

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Kyrylo Budanov said his agency has been tipped off by Kremlin sources that the Russian leader has the disease.

It's the latest claim about Putin's health, with the suggestions focusing on his sometimes sickly appearance in public and his habit of holding meetings at a distance, or remotely.

"He has been sick for a long time. I am sure he has cancer. I think he will die very quickly. I hope very soon," Mr Budanov told ABC News.

He added that he believes the war will be won by Ukraine this year and that it should be won before Putin dies.

While the West has wondered about the implications of life after Putin – whether he is in fact terminally ill or whether a palace coup resulting from a backlash against the failed invasion removes him from power – it has not been verified if the leader is sick.

Read more: Vladimir Putin orders 36-hour Christmas truce as Ukraine says Russian forces must leave first

Putin's health has been speculated over for months
Putin's health has been speculated over for months. Picture: Alamy

Bloggers and Kremlin-watchers claim to have been passed information about regular visits from cancer specialists and the medication Putin is said to be taking.

There have even been suggestions a terminal illness or his medication have driven him into poor decision making, in particular the decision to invade Ukraine as the cost of tens of thousands of Russians who have been killed or injured, and an economy under heavy sanctions.

Previously, the head of the CIA, William Burns, told a reporters Putin was too healthy.

The Kremlin, for its part, insists Putin is fine.

Read more: Prince Harry admits taking cocaine as a teenager 'to feel different'

It comes as the Russian leader ordered a 36-hour ceasefire to observe the Orthodox Christmas, with Moscow calling on Kyiv to honour it. Ukraine has rejected it as propaganda.

Ukrainians have frequently warned about how Moscow's invitations to pause fighting usually just offer it a chance to reset and ready for a further push.

The ceasefire was called just days after Ukraine unleashed a devastating missile volley at troops in the Donbas region just as Putin delivered his New Year's message.

And Russia is failing to capture Bakhmut, a city in the Donetsk region which Putin wants to take in his bid to capture all of the oblast – one of the four he has illegally declared part of Russia.

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