Russian leader Vladimir Putin does not have cancer, says a CIA expert, and the only problem with him is that if anything he’s “too healthy”.
William Burns, the director of the CIA, told the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that there was no evidence to support the reports coming out of Russia that President Putin had either Parkinson’s Disease, cancer, or both.
He told an audience of international security experts: "There are lots of rumours about President Putin's health and as far as we can tell he's entirely too healthy.”
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As laughter echoed around the room he stressed that his comments were not an official CIA analysis.
Mr Burns went on to outline the threat that Putin represents to Russia’s neighbours, and to the world in general.
He said that Putin was "a big believer in control, intimidation and getting even,” and that the Russian leader’s hard-line attitude was only becoming more uncompromising as he becomes more isolated.
"He is convinced that his destiny as Russia's leader is to restore Russia as a great power,” Mr Burns said. “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."
Speaking of his personal experience in Moscow, Mr Burns added: “I've heard him say this privately over the years that Ukraine is not a real country.
"Well, real countries fight back. And that's what the Ukrainians have done."
Russia has ‘already lost’ war in Ukraine, says UK's armed forces chief
The most recent US intelligence puts Russia’s losses in Ukraine in the region of 15,000 killed and as many as 45,000 wounded. Mr Burns said that the withdrawal of Russian thrusts into Ukraine’s heartland to concentrate firepower in the Donbas region suggests that Putin’s commanders had learned “hard lessons”.
The original pretext for the February invasion is that Ukraine was conducting a “genocide” of Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine.
But the invasion has only served to galvanise Western support for Ukraine.
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Four more Himars mobile rocket artillery systems have been sent by the US to join the 12 already in service in the besieged country.
Ukraine says it has already used the weapons to carry out successful strikes on 30 Russian logistics and ammunitions hubs.
American Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin said that the US “will keep finding innovative ways to sustain our long-term support for the brave men and women of the Ukrainian armed forces and we will tailor our assistance to ensure that Ukraine has the technology, the ammunition and the sheer firepower to defend itself”.
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