Russian President Vladimir Putin underwent treatment for advanced cancer in April and survived an assassination attempt in March. NEWSWEEK reported on Thursday, citing US intelligence officials.
The report said US intelligence assessments indicate that the Russian leader is sick, isolated and increasingly paranoid, making his course in Ukraine unpredictable. The US National Security Council denied the existence of any such report.
The officials said intelligence about Putin’s status is murky due to his isolation since the invasion of Ukraine, and cautioned against jumping to any conclusions or predicting Putin’s demise.
One official said other Russian officials are eyeing power in the Kremlin, sensing that Putin is nearing the end of his era.
The report said the assassination attempt was a “Russian plot” exposed by Kremlin security, without providing further details.
She added that the CIA and other countries’ intelligence agencies had heard reports of discontent with Russia’s security ministries and that some Russian diplomats wanted to escape to Western countries.
Putin has appeared weak During some public appearances in recent months.
One US intelligence official said a weak Putin has less power over his subordinates and might be less able to order the use of nuclear weapons even if he decided to.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied any rumors of Putin’s illness.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine reached its 100th day on Friday as Russian forces bombarded the Donbass region in their quest to seize the east of the country.
Ukraine said on Wednesday that Russia controls about 20 percent of Ukraine’s territory, including Crimea and parts of Donbass seized in 2014.
Repelled from across the capital, Putin’s forces set their sights on controlling eastern Ukraine, leading to dire warnings that the war might drag on.
The Russian invasion of its neighbor killed thousands and forced millions to flee, with eastern Ukraine bearing the brunt of the attack.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Kyiv’s forces are losing up to 100 soldiers a day.
AFP contributed to this report.
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