The Russian government has denied persistent rumours about the failing health of Russian president, Vladimir Putin.
There has been increasing unconfirmed media speculation that Putin, who turns 70 this year, may be suffering from ill health, possibly cancer.
Western intelligence agencies have been taking a close interest in Putin’s mental and physical health because he gave the order to launch the ill-planned invasion of Ukraine and he has sole authority over the use of Russia’s vast nuclear arsenal.
But Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov denied speculation that Putin is ill, saying ‘sane people’ can see that he isn’t ill.
In an interview with French TV, Lavrov said the Russian leader appears in public every day.
While repeating the Kremlin’s widely discredited line that Russia is fighting a “neo-Nazi regime”, Lavrov also said the “liberation” of the eastern region of Ukraine was an “unconditional priority” for Russia.
Lavrov told TF1: “I don’t think that sane people can see in this person signs of some kind of illness or ailment.”
“You can watch him on screens, read and listen to his speeches,” he said in comments released by the Russian foreign ministry.
“I leave it to the conscience of those who spread such rumours despite daily opportunities to assess how anyone is looking.”
Asked about the devastating artillery and rocket attacks on some urban areas, which has killed at least 4,031 civilians since the invasion of Ukraine,
Lavrov insisted Russian soldiers were “under strict orders categorically to avoid attacks and strikes on civilian infrastructure”.
Lavrov added that winning in “the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, recognised by the Russian Federation as independent states, is an unconditional priority”.