New Delhi: Christopher Steele, a former British spy, has claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin is seriously ill.
Steele, who wrote a dossier on Donald Trump and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US election campaign, told Sky News: "Certainly, from what we're hearing from sources in Russia and elsewhere, Putin is, in fact, quite seriously ill."
Amid all this, a leaked audio conversation of a Russian oligarch having close ties with Putin, has revealed that the Russian leader is "suffering from blood cancer."
The unidentified oligarch was heard discussing Putin's health with a Western venture capitalist, in the leaked audio recording obtained by a US magazine New Lines.
Speculations around the Russian President's health intensified since the Ukraine war as the leaders appeared frail at public events including the Victory Day celebrations last week.
In the photos and videos doing rounds on social media, Putin had a thick green cover draped over his legs as he sat among Second World War veterans and senior dignitaries to watch a military parade in Moscow's Red Square.
Putin, in a black bomber jacket, was also spotted coughing and was the only person among his group who needed additional coverings to combat the relatively mild 9-degree Celsius weather, reported the Independent.
The Russian oligarch says in the recording that Putin had surgery on his back linked to his blood cancer shortly before ordering the invasion of Ukraine. The president has gone "crazy", he adds.
Recently, a video meeting between Putin and Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu, showed him tightly clutching the table, not letting go for the entirety of the 12-minute clip.
"We all hope that Mr. Putin dies. He absolutely ruined Russia's economy, Ukraine's economy, and many other economies - ruined absolutely," the oligarch says. "The problem is with his head. One crazy guy can turn the world upside down."
A top Ukrainian military official has also claimed the Kremlin leader has cancer and other ailments. He told the Sky News that Putin is in a "very bad psychological and physical condition and he is very sick".