Rumors have been swirling in recent weeks that Russian President Vladimir Putin is unwell and somehow losing his grip.
The strongman and former KGB operative, who is pushing 70, has spent years trying to cultivate a macho image — riding a horse without a shirt on, playing hockey, and showing off his judo moves. Throughout his roughly two decades in power, Putin has been thought of as a calculated, emotionless leader. But the bare-chested equestrian's disposition has seemingly shifted since he launched an unprovoked, full-scale war in Ukraine back in late February. His cheeks are puffy, he's fidgety, and his speeches bombastic and filled with vitriol.
Jeffrey Edmonds, former director for Russia on the National Security Council and an ex-CIA military analyst, told Insider he's "not seeing anything truly credible" to back-up the notion that Putin is unwell.
"What I and others have seen is a definite change in his demeanor," Edmonds said, adding that Putin is "normally the voice of calm in Russia but publicly has become more emotional and angry." This suggests that Putin is "not comfortable with something," Edmonds added.
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