Russian missiles hit Mykolaiv overnight

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a press conference following the Astana Process summit in Tehran, Iran, July 19. (Majid Asgaripour/WANA/Reuters)

Russian President Vladimir Putin is “quite too healthy” despite “many rumours” about his health, according to a senior US intelligence official.

“There are a lot of rumors about President Putin’s health and as far as we can tell he is too healthy,” CIA Director Bill Burns said when asked directly if Putin was in poor health or unstable.

Burns acknowledged that his public remarks at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado on Wednesday were not “a formal intelligence judgment.”

Putin recently appeared in photos with visible facial bags which led to speculation he may be undergoing medical treatment for an unknown illness.

The Kremlin has previously denied rumors of ailments.

“I don’t think any sane person would see in this person any signs of any sort of disease or ailment. I leave that on the conscience of those who spread such rumors despite daily opportunities to ascertain who look how in this world,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said. Minister Sergei Lavrov told French channel TF1 in May.

A bit of context: When Russia invaded Ukraine in February, US politicians and former diplomats openly speculated about Putin’s stability.

Whether it’s using a huge table in talks with French President Emmanuel Macron after refusing a Russian Covid-19 test or delivering a speech laced with conspiracy theories to justify invading Ukraine , some of Putin’s behavior bordered on bizarre.

According to a CNN report published in March, US officials are also “on guard that Putin’s strategy is to project instability, in an attempt to pressure the United States and its allies into giving him that whom he wills lest he be able to do so”. worse.”

When asked in March if there had been any noticeable changes in Putin’s behavior, psychiatrist Dr Kenneth Dekleva told CNN: “Yes and no.”

Dekleva, who previously worked at the US Embassy in Moscow and specializes in analyzing leadership and profiling political psychology for national security purposes, said Putin’s behavior was a sign of frustration against the rhythm of the Russian invasion.

“I don’t think he’s erratic or he’s changed, but he’s definitely more of a rush,” Dekleva said.

“The saddest thing here, the most tragic thing, is that Putin has gone from being a respected world leader when he came to power to … he looks more and more like the Russian Slobodan Milosevic “, added Dekleva, comparing Putin to the Serb. autocrat who died in The Hague in 2006 while awaiting trial for war crimes.

CNN’s Uliana Pavlova, Sarah Diab and Zachary B. Wolf contributed to this post.

Christi C. Elwood