Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, is suffering from a disease “more serious” than the medical conditions he is rumored to have.
Since Russia launched the invasion of Ukraine, Putin has become the subject of numerous rumors claiming he is suffering from severe illnesses, including blood cancer and Parkinson’s disease. Ukrainian intelligence official Maj. Gen. Kyrylo O. Budanov also said sources inside the Kremlin told him that Putin will likely pass away in the next two years.
Speaking in a recent interview with NBC, Zelensky said he is not interested in rumors of Putin’s alleged failing health. However, he suggested that his Russian counterpart could be suffering from a worse illness that poses a threat to Ukraine.
“I do not know what is going on with Vladimir Putin. I think they have one severe disease, and it is even more serious than the one you are talking about. I mean a disease connected with respect for our people, a disease of invasion and tortures they have committed on our land,” Zelensky said in the interview, the video of which was posted on his Telegram channel Wednesday.
“Many people within the Russian president’s surrounding are sick. Overly high ambitions, the inability to understand, and disrespect for international law, human lives. All this means nothing to them. This disease poses a threat to our country,” he added.
The interview comes as the war in Ukraine enters its fifth month, with deaths among Ukrainian civilians reaching 4,731 as of Sunday, according to estimates from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The estimates from the OHCHR have not yet included the death toll that resulted from a Russian military strike on a crowded shopping mall in the Ukrainian region of Poltava. As of Tuesday, at least 20 people were reported to have died in the attack. Authorities said up to 1,000 people were inside the mall when the missile struck.
Zelensky is now calling on world leaders in the U.N. Security Council to punish Russia following a recent surge of attacks against Ukrainian civilians. Russia is a permanent member of the council.