Putin ‘is suffering from several serious illnesses, including cancer’ but ‘has a few more years’ claims Ukraine intelligence chief who said Vladimir survived assassination attempt two months ago

Vladimir Putin is suffering from ‘several serious illnesses’ including cancer – but ‘will not die tomorrow’, a Ukrainian intelligence chief has claimed.

Kyiv military spy chief Kyrylo Budanov said he fears the Russian leader still has a ‘few more years’ left in him.

The major-general yesterday claimed Putin was the target of an assassination attempt shortly after launching his invasion. 

He said the abortive bid was by representatives of the Caucasus, but gave no further details.

In an much-heralded interview with Ukrayinska Pravda, Budanov, 36, confirmed that the Ukrainians believe Putin is suffering from cancer, but did not add to an advance excerpt from the interview which revealed an apparent assassination bid on him.

‘He has several serious illnesses, one of which is cancer,’ he said.

‘But it is not worth hoping that Putin will die tomorrow.

‘He has at least a few more years. Like it or not, but it’s true.’

Budanov claimed Putin was in a ‘confused’ state mentally.

‘Here we can argue a lot about the state of the dictator, who thought he would capture the whole country [Ukraine] in three days and raise the Russian flag on the administration building in Kyiv,’ he said.

‘And for the third month in a row, declaring that he has the second and sometimes the first army in the world, he cannot cope, in his words, ‘with backward non-state Ukraine’.

‘This is his rhetoric. That’s what state he should be in?’

Putin has ‘significantly reduced people’s access to people’.

He allows in ‘quite a small number of people’ and ‘keeps everyone else at a distance’.

Asked if he believes Putin is grooming a successor, he suggested his medical condition has made him ‘manic’ and stops this.

‘This is a very interesting question. In different periods of his time, he thought about it, and in principle chose, as they say, the favourite.

‘There were already several such people.

‘Looking at some of his manic syndromes, he is likely to be afraid to seriously prepare a successor, realising that in preparation, this successor may want to take the chair a little earlier than Putin himself wants.

‘Therefore, he keeps everyone at a certain distance. And he believes that he will rule forever. But it will not be so.’

He said: ‘Look at the history of any dictator of the 20th and 21st centuries.

‘They ended the same, absolutely all.

‘None of them ended differently. In most cases, they died against their will.

‘Take recent examples, such as Saddam Hussein, the former Yugoslav dictator, the Libyan dictator. This is a classic image of a dictator. There were other examples in Africa.

‘They all ended the same way, and Putin will end the same way.’ Budanov insisted ‘there were assassination attempts on Putin’.

He said: ‘There was even an assassination attempt on him, as they say, by representatives of the Caucasus not so long ago.

‘This is non-public information. Absolutely unsuccessful attempt, but it really took place….

‘It was about two months ago.

‘Once again, he was unsuccessful. There is no publicity about this event, but it happened.’

The spy chief’s comments on cancer follow rumours in Moscow that Putin has undergone recent surgery.

Accounts differ on whether he had thyroid, abdominal or blood cancer.

The Kremlin insists Putin is in robust health.

Yesterday, it was revealed Budanov said Putin was ‘attacked.. by representatives of the Caucasus’ – a region that includes ArmeniaAzerbaijan, Georgia and parts of southern Russia – around two months ago.

‘[It was an] Absolutely unsuccessful attempt, but it really happened… It was about 2 months ago,’ Budanov said. ‘I repeat, this attempt was unsuccessful. There was no publicity about this event, but it took place.’

If true, it would be the only known attempt on Putin’s life since he launched all-out war against Ukraine on February 24. 

Budanov did not directly link the assassination attempt to the Ukraine war, and Putin has a number of well-established enemies in the region from previous conflicts.

He gave the order for Russian to invade Georgia in 2008 – a war that ended in an uneasy stalemate – and has been fighting a low-level conflict against Islamist insurgents including ISIS in the region for many years.

The security situation has also been destabilised in recent years by fighting between Armenia – a close ally of Russia – and Azerbaijan, which included a war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in 2020.

Hostilities along their shared border had ticked up in the early months of this year, just before Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in late February.

Putin is said to be fearful of assassination since declaring war, after hit squads were sent into Ukraine to take out President Zelensky in the early days of the conflict.

Zelensky and his entourage have described surviving several attempts to storm the presidential palace in the opening hours of the war, in what they believe were kill-or-capture missions by Russian ‘saboteurs’. 

Last month, Putin took his ‘nuclear football’ – a briefcase that can launch an attack remotely – to the funeral of a far-right politician. 

Mourners were cleared away when the President paid his respects to ultranationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky, showing his fears of an assassination attempt.

Putin has previously claimed he has escaped numerous assassination attempts. 

In 2017, Putin told filmmaker Oliver Stone that there had been five assassination attempts against him – and the only reason he is alive is because he deals with his own security personally. 

‘I do my job and the security officers do theirs and they are still performing quite successfully,’ Putin said in the documentary ‘The Putin Interviews’.

Putin is said to travel with his own sniper squad whose role is to locate any shooters and kill them before they are able to pull the trigger on Putin.

In 2012, a former public schoolboy in Britain was arrested in the Ukrainian port city of Odessa in connection with a foiled plot to assassinate Putin.

Adam Osmayev, who is from a prominent Chechen family opposed to Putin, was seized by special forces in Odessa and he allegedly confessed to wanting to travel to Moscow and kill Putin, then a presidential candidate, by bombing his motorcade.  

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