Russian President Vladimir Putin is “entirely too healthy,” CIA Director William Burns insisted this week — casting doubt on the ongoing speculation about the strongman’s vigor.
“As far as we can tell, he’s entirely too healthy,” Burns during the Aspen Security Forum on Wednesday.
However, Burns — who was reportedly the last US official to meet with Putin before the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — admitted that his determination was “not a formula intelligence judgment” but rather a personal opinion.
The CIA director’s comments break with previous US intelligence that said the Russian tyrant’s health was declining and he was reportedly being treated for cancer.
One official from the office of the Director of National Intelligence told Newsweek last month, “Putin is definitely sick.”
“Is Putin sick? Absolutely,” a retired Air Force officer told the outlet. “But we shouldn’t let waiting for his death drive proactive actions on our part. A power vacuum after Putin could be very dangerous for the world.”
The speculation gained momentum when Putin appeared to be strongly gripping a table for support when he met with Sergei Kulikov, CEO of the RusNano State Corp, in June.
Just days before, the Russian leader had been seen shaking and struggling to stand during an awards ceremony at the Kremlin.
At the time, Telegram channel General SVR — which is purportedly run by a Kremlin military source — reported that Putin’s doctors advised him not to make any “lengthy” public appearances because of his “unstable health.”
In May, reports emerged that the Russian president became “very ill with blood cancer” and that he underwent surgery to remove fluid from his abdomen.
Most recently, Putin was seen coughing during a public appearance Wednesday following his visit to Iran the previous day. However, the defiant strongman swiftly attributed it to air conditioning in Tehran.
“It was very hot in Tehran yesterday, plus 38 [degrees Celsius, or over 100 degrees Fahrenheit] and the air conditioning was very strong there. So I apologize,” Putin said, according to Interfax.
Meanwhile, the Kremlin has adamantly defended Putin’s health, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov waving off any rumors that he is in decline on Thursday.
“Everything is fine with his health,” Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters.
“You know that Ukrainian information specialists, and American and British ones, have been throwing out various fakes about the state of the president’s health in recent months — these are nothing but fakes,” he said.