Is Putin ill? New Pentagon leaks suggest Russian leader was due to undergo 'chemotherapy' earlier this year
Information included in the Pentagon leaks showed allegedly suggested that there was a Russian plot to "throw" the war in Ukraine
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Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, the health status of Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been rumoured to be in poor condition.
Rumours have swirled around claims that Putin has been suffering from everything from Covid to cancer ever since Russian troops moved into Ukraine in February 2022. They grew larger as the leader made shaky and questionable public appearances.
The Kremlin has denied that the president was in ill health. However, the plot has thickened for those watching closely.
The leaking of highly-sensitive Pentagon papers on online messaging service Discord has divulged some alleged confidential secrets around Putin's well-being. Jack Teixeria, a 21-year-old US Air Force National Guardsman, has been charged with unauthorised removal and retention of classified and national defence information under the under the Espionage Act following the release of the documents online, which also revealed alleged secret information around Ukrainian air defences could be close to running out of ammunition.
But what have the papers said about Putin's rumoured health status? Here's everything you need to know.
What did the leaked Pentagon papers say about Putin's health?
According to the leaked Pentagon documents found on Discord, Putin was allegedly "scheduled to start a round of chemotherapy" earlier this year. This would suggest that the Russian leader has been suffering from cancer, a rumour which also spread on social media site Telegram citing close Kremlin sources.
The Pentagon leaked document said that Russian Chief of the General Staff Valery Gerasimov and Russian National Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev had concocted a plan to "throw" the war while Putin was receiving treatment, when he would be "unable to influence the war effort". According to the leaked document, the information came from an unidentified Russian source who has "access to Kremlin officials".
The document, which was marked as 'top secret', said: "[Redacted] on 22 February indicated that Gerasimov reportedly planned to continue his efforts to sabotage the offensive, noting that he promised to 'throw' the so-called special military operation by 5 March, when Putin was allegedly scheduled to start a round of chemotherapy and would thus be unable to influence the war effort."
The alleged illness Putin is rumoured to be suffering from was not named in the documents, nor was the specifics of the illness. The rumour has not been confirmed by either the US or Russian governments since the leak.
What else has been said about Putin's health?
The information in the document posted to Discord is the latest in a long line of rumours which have spread about Putin's health. As previously mentioned, a Telegram channel named 'General SVR' made the allegation in late 2022 that the Russian president was suffering from cancer and Parkinson's disease.
Three US intelligence leaders said in June 2022 that they had read that Putin had undergone treatment for cancer in April 2022 in intelligence documents. However, the focus on Putin's health has been batted away by the Kremlin, and by experts alike who claim that rumours and bizarre behaviours exhibited by Putin could be a distraction.
Writing for the Centre for European Policy Analysis, senior fellow Olga Lautman said: "We cannot know whether these rumours, some of which can reasonably be assumed to originate with Russia’s intelligence services, are designed to cause diversion, distraction, to unmask those Russian individuals and groups hoping to take power, or to offer false hope that change is around the corner."