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Video of 'hunched, bloated' Putin gripping table sparks questions over his health
22 April 2022, 14:26 | Updated: 22 April 2022, 16:44
Vladimir Putin’s health has been called into question after video showed him tightly clutching a table throughout a meeting with Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu.
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Hunched and appearing 'bloated' in the face, Putin was seen in the clip opposite Shoigu where he claimed Russia had 'liberated' the besieged city of Mariupol, and ordered a halt to the attack on the final Ukrainian stronghold in the city.
The video clip shows Putin speaking to Shoigu gripping the edge of the table with his right hand, and tapping his foot.
Shoigu was described as 'slurring his words' in the footage and was reading from notes, after he had suffered an apparent heart attack.
Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist and former adviser to Ukraine and Russia, said: "Putin's meeting with Shoigu today shows both depressed & seemingly in bad health.
"Shoigu has to read his comments to Putin & slurs badly, suggesting that the rumours of his heart attack are likely. He sits badly. Poor performance. Worth watching."
Vladimir Putin ordered to cancel the storming of Azovstal in order to save the lives of Russian servicemen, as well as completely block the enterprise pic.twitter.com/3j27YvIqSV— bigrussianshop🇷🇺 (@bigrussianshop) April 21, 2022
Putin's bloated face and neck has sparked claims he is undergoing steroid treatment. Others speculated he may be showing signs of Parkinson's.
The footage shows Putin’s right thumb constantly moving as he listens to his defence minister, and it has been suggested that the fidgeting could indicate that he was trying to hide a tremor.
Former MI6 head Sir Richard Dearlove and former Nato adviser Professor Gwythian Prins have both claimed that Putin has shown signs of the progressive nervous system disorder.
Last week, a Russian-Israeli businessman claimed Shoigu suffered a heart attack. Leonid Nevzlin claimed Shoigu had been in intensive care after suffering "a massive heart attack".
At the joint appearance with Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu, Mr Putin declared: "The completion of combat work to liberate Mariupol is a success," and he offered congratulations to Mr Shoigu.
Mr Shoigu predicted the Azovstal steel mill could be taken in three to four days. But Mr Putin said that would be "pointless" and expressed concern for the lives of Russian troops in deciding against sending them in to clear out the sprawling plant, where the die-hard defenders were hiding in a maze of underground passageways.
Instead, the Russian leader said, the military should "block off this industrial area so that not even a fly comes through".
The plant covers four square miles, and is threaded with some 15 miles of tunnels and bunkers.
Russian officials for weeks have said capturing the mostly Russian-speaking Donbas is the war's main objective. Moscow's forces opened the new phase of the fighting this week along a 300-mile front from the north-eastern city of Kharkiv to the Azov Sea.
While Russia continued heavy air and artillery attacks in those areas, it did not appear to gain any significant ground over the past few days, according to military analysts, who said Moscow's forces are still ramping up the offensive.
In the US, President Joe Biden has pledged an additional 1.3 billion dollars (£996 million) for new weapons and economic assistance to help Ukraine, and he promised to seek much more from US congress to keep the guns, ammunition and cash flowing.
Mariupol: Steel plant where people are reportedly sheltering seen on fire from airstrike