Sources told the former British spy who wrote an infamous dossier about Donald Trump’s dealings in Russia, that Russian President Vladimir Putin is seriously ill.
“Certainly, from what we’re hearing from sources in Russia and elsewhere, is that Putin is, in fact, quite seriously ill,” said Christopher Steele, who led MI6’s Russia desk and worked as a spy in Moscow for years.
For months there were claims about the 69-year-old leader’s health, and now Ukraine’s head of military intelligence, Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov said that Putin is in a “very bad psychological and physical condition and he is very sick.”
Budanov then suggested that the purported illness had incited plans within Russia for a coup, per report.
Putin’s health is “an element” of his decision-making in Ukraine, said Steele.
“It’s not clear exactly what this illness is, whether it’s incurable or terminal, or whatever. But certainly, I think it’s part of the equation,” Steele added.
For now, rumors about Putin’s health, which describe a panoply of ailments, are all but impossible to confirm, but, in early April, the Russian investigative news outlet Proekt said that the leader had received dozens of visits from a thyroid-cancer specialist.
A former KGB agent, Boris Karpichkov, said in early May that “there is a serious concern that Putin is suffering from” ailments including dementia and Parkinson’s disease.
This was followed by weeks of tabloid speculation over the leader’s appearance, including images of him appearing to steady himself while seated in a meeting with his defense minister.
Steele’s intelligence dossier made multiple claims about Trump, including that there exists a so-called pee tape of obscene material involving Trump in Russia before his political career.
But as no evidence of the tape has been found, other aspects of the dossier’s credibility have been questioned.
In the ’90s, Steele worked under diplomatic cover as a spy in Moscow for three years, and he was also the chief of MI6’s Russia desk from 2006 to 2009.