Ukraine war: CIA chief says no intelligence that Putin is in bad health

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There is no intelligence that Vladimir Putin is unstable or in bad health, the director of the CIA has said.

There has been increasing unconfirmed media speculation that Mr Putin, who turns 70 this year, may be suffering from ill health, possibly cancer.

But William Burns said there was no evidence to suggest this, joking that he appeared “too healthy”.

His comments came as the US announced it would provide Ukraine with more long-range weapons.

Earlier Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia’s military focus in Ukraine was no longer “only” the east and implied Moscow’s strategy had changed after the West supplied Ukraine with such weapons.

“There are lots of rumours about President Putin’s health and as far as we can tell he’s entirely too healthy,” Mr Burns said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado.

Responding to laughter, he added that this was not a formal intelligence judgement.

Mr Burns, who served as ambassador to Moscow, said he had been observing and dealing with the Russian leader for more than two decades.

Mr Putin is “a big believer in control, intimidation and getting even” and these traits have hardened over the last decade as his circle of advisers has contracted, the CIA chief said.

“He is convinced that his destiny as Russia’s leader is to restore Russia as a great power. He believes the key to doing that is to recreate a sphere of influence in Russia’s neighbourhood and he cannot do that without controlling Ukraine.”

 

 

SOURCE: NEWS AGENCIES

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