Theories Circling Around Vladimir Putin's Health Just Intensified

Vladimir Putin isn't one to show weakness, or any vulnerability at all for that matter; any headline about him in relation to the conflict in Ukraine paints a picture of an Emperor Palpatine-esque despot. That's why people were so shocked to see the Russian president looking worse for wear in recent months. Online commenters have crafted theories about what might be amiss, pointing to videos of Putin's peculiar body language as evidence of Putin dealing with a secret diagnosis. In an April video of Putin's meeting with defense minister Sergei Shoigu, people took special notice of the stiff way he gripped the table, connecting it with Parkinson's disease.

Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov shot down the rumors in a May interview, telling TF1 (via BBC), "I don't think that sane people can see in this person signs of some kind of illness or ailment." However, according to the New York Post, Russian outlet The Project reported Putin was undergoing treatment for health issues, meeting with cancer doctors and even going so far as bathing in blood from deer antlers to mask his potential illness.

Despite all of the speculation, there hasn't been any concrete confirmation of the whispers about Putin's health — until now.

US intelligence officials say Putin has cancer

It appears that the rumors swirling around Vladimir Putin's health have some validity. Thanks to a Newsweek exclusive, a new U.S. report confirms that the Russian president was treated for advanced cancer in April, and suggests that he even survived an assassination attempt the month before. Three unnamed intelligence officials from different departments corroborated the report, with one saying, "Putin is definitely sick ... Whether he's going to die soon is mere speculation."

Another official from the United States Air Force warned people not to let their guard down, reminding them that problems won't magically go away if Putin dies: "We need to be mindful of the influence of wishful thinking. We learned — or didn't learn — that lesson the hard way with Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein."

From Donald Trump to Joe Biden to Queen Elizabeth II, speculation about a world leader's health, mental or physical, is nothing new. It comes with the territory, and often serves as a suggestion from critics that they're unable to perform their duties. Members of both major political parties in the U.S. lobbed allegations of dementia at the other's presidential candidate in 2020, with the Alzheimer's Society even speaking out against it. Although this report about Putin pushes his health issues out of the theory stage, we should be careful not to jump to conclusions just yet.