Could Putin Really Have Cancer?

June 8, 2024 Topic: Security Region: Europe Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: RussiaUkrainePutinCancerVladimir PutinMilitaryDefense

Could Putin Really Have Cancer?

Speculation about Vladimir Putin's health has intensified since Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, with rumors ranging from cancer to Parkinson’s disease.


Summary and Key Points: Speculation about Vladimir Putin's health has intensified since Russia's 2022 invasion of Ukraine, with rumors ranging from cancer to Parkinson’s disease.



-Despite persistent claims and public scrutiny, many analysts believe Putin is not in poor health.

-Recently, the U.S. Sun published photos of Putin appearing "mad-eyed" during a meeting, further fueling rumors.

-Leaked Pentagon documents and statements from Ukrainian officials have added to the speculation, suggesting potential plans to sabotage Putin and claims of his illness.

-However, such rumors are often dismissed as strategic misinformation aimed at undermining public trust in the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin Health Rumors: Fact or Fiction?

Speculation surrounding Vladimir Putin’s health has soared following the onset of Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The Kremlin leader has been rumored to be suffering from a litany of illnesses, ranging from terminal cancer to Parkinson’s disease.

Despite these persistent claims, the majority of analysts are not convinced that Putin is in poor health at all.

Even if Russia’s president were truly ill, the Kremlin would never allow such news to circulate to the public.

The Vladimir Putin Rumors Won't Go Away 

Most recently, the U.S. Sun tabloid magazine published images of Putin appearing to look “mad-eyed.”

The 71-year-old Kremlin leader expressed a range of emotions during his meeting with his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko this week in St. Petersburg.

Obviously, facial expressions are really no reliable indicator of terminal illness.

However, this is certainly not the first rumor surrounding Putin’s health to circulate.


Last year, classified documents from a Pentagon intelligence report were leaked on social media platforms. The documents were riddled with intelligence surrounding troop movements and casualty numbers in Ukraine. Additionally, an alleged plan by Russian officials to sabotage the Kremlin leader was also outlined in the documents.

Yelizaveta Bohutska, a member of Ukraine’s parliament, detailed that Russian officials had planned to oust Putin via a coordinated military setback on the same day the Russian leader was scheduled to undergo a round of chemotherapy.

While this claim is unverified, Ukrainian leaders and media outlets have continued to fuel similar speculations. Last January, Kyiv’s military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov announced during an ABC News interview that Putin-related health rumors were true. “He has been sick for a long time. I am sure he has cancer,” Mr. Budanov said. “I think he will die very quickly. I hope very soon.”

A few months prior, Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs Anton Gerashchenko released on social media footage of the Kremlin leader’s visit to occupied Crimea. In this footage, Putin appears to be limping. Well some speculate this limping to imply a more serious health condition, others have dismissed it as a simple symptom of being 71-years old.

Obviously, Ukrainian officials have every reason to fuel these health rumors. If Russians believe their leader is truly suffering from a terminal disease, it would sway their trust in their government.

The Putin Health Rumors Just Keep Coming 

Other rumors pertaining to the Kremlin leader’s health have circulated since 2022. In June 2023, three U.S. intelligence leaders read reports that Putin had undergone cancer treatments in 2021.

As outlined in Newsweek, a retired Air Force senior leader, an official from the Director of National Intelligence and an official from the Defense Intelligence Agency all agree that the reports may not have possessed accurate information surrounding Putin’s health assessments.


As long as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine continues, Putin health rumors are bound to persist.

Similarly, speculation concerning North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un has also ramped up in recent years.

The desire to dissect the personal lives and health of highly secretive autocratic leaders could be fueling these rumors altogether.

About the Author: Maya Carlin 

Maya Carlin, National Security Writer with The National Interest, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin

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