A day after rumors of Vladimir Putin’s health resurfaced following his visit to Iran this week, the director of the Central Intelligence Agency spoke about the Russian President’s condition.
William Burns said there was no intelligence suggesting Putin was unstable or in bad health. He also joked the soon-to-be 70-year-old appeared to be “too healthy.”
“There are lots of rumors about President Putin’s health and as far as we can tell he’s entirely too healthy,” Burns said at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, according to BBC on Thursday.
Burns, who served as ambassador to Moscow, said it has been more than two decades since he has been dealing with the Russian leader, according to Euro News.
Putin is “a big believer in control, intimidation and getting even,” the CIA chief said, adding he has become stronger in these traits over the years.
“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 neighborhood and he cannot do that without controlling Ukraine.”
For months, rumors have made the rounds that Putin may be suffering from ill health, possibly cancer. On Wednesday, body language expert Judi James told local media the Russian leader struggled to go down the stairs of his jet after landing Tuesday at Mehrabad airport in Tehran.
“The man who arrives behind him seems to have no trouble using the steps facing front, but Putin turns sideways and takes the last one clumsily,” he said. “This could be down to height or even age, but he appears to be making heavy duty of it.”
A video shared on Twitter purportedly showed Putin’s right arm seemingly rigid and stiff as he limped down the red carpet rolled out for him.
Last month, Kremlin press secretary Dmitriy Peskov rejected rumors about Putin’s illness.
“I can tell you one thing that yesterday, I know, in the afternoon, actually he played hockey. It’s about yesterday, he was playing hockey,” Peskov told NBC’s Keir Simmons in an interview.