Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone has revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin has had cancer.

The American filmmaker was granted unprecedented access to the Kremlin leader over a two year period while filming a series of interviews and is considered to know Putin better than most Westerners.

Stone said in a new podcast that Putin had suffered from cancer, and that he believed he had overcome it – something which has not been confirmed to the Russian people.

His words come amid acute speculation that the Kremlin leader is now currently suffering from cancer.

Earlier today, former MI6 spy Christopher Steele claimed Putin is losing his grip on power due to his ailing health and is leaving the Kremlin in ‘increasing disarray and chaos’ as the war in Ukraine marches on.

Steele, who once operated in Russia as an MI6 agent, said Putin, 69, is having to take regular breaks to receive medical treatments and that there was effectively ‘no clear political leadership’ in Moscow.

Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone has revealed that Russian President Vladimir Putin has had cancer. Pictured: Oliver Stone on the Lex Fridman Podcast where he made the comments

Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone has been granted unprecedented access to the Russian President in the past. Pictured: Stone speaks with President Vladimir Putin in June, 2019

Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone has been granted unprecedented access to the Russian President in the past. Pictured: Stone speaks with President Vladimir Putin in June, 2019

Filmmaker Stone, the director behind movies including JFK and Scarface, said separately that he has not met Putin for three years, and his in-depth interviews with him were between 2015 and 2017.

‘Remember this, Mr Putin has had this cancer and I think he’s licked it,’ he told podcast interviewer Lex Fridman.

‘But he’s also been isolated because of Covid.’

There have been suggestions in Russia that Putin’s deep isolation from Covid was due to a pre-existing but unspecified medical condition which made him especially vulnerable.

Explaining why Putin may have misjudged the invasion of Ukraine, Stone speculated that ‘perhaps he lost touch – contact – with people’.

It was not clear if Putin was getting the correct intelligence, he admitted, before adding: ‘You would think he was not well informed perhaps, about the degree of cooperation he would get from the [ethnic Russians] in Ukraine…

‘That would be one factor, that he didn’t assess the situation correctly.’

It could also be that his ‘isolation from normal activity’ and no longer meeting people ‘face to face’ due to health concerns for Putin over Covid may have led to errors, Stone speculated.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and director Oliver Stone who shot The Putin Interviews

Russian President Vladimir Putin and director Oliver Stone who shot The Putin Interviews

But then after Covid, he was forced to see them at a long distance across a table.

Stone’s words on cancer raise the possibility – if true – that he had initially overcome the disease, but that it returned in the three years since he met Putin.

The filmmaker – who has faced criticism that he was an apologist for Putin – did not specify the type of cancer.

He appeared to refer to notes before making the comment that Putin had suffered an oncology condition which he had ‘licked’.

Lately there has been speculation that Putin has thyroid cancer.

An investigation by Russian independent journalists found that Putin was surrounded permanently by a large medical team led by a specialist thyroid cancer surgeon.

Other reports suggest he may be suffering from abdominal cancer.

There are rumours in Moscow that he is due to face surgery for cancer imminently, and that he may put trusted aide Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian security council, in charge while he is incapacitated.

Rumours have been circling for years that Putin (pictured gripping table during a meeting last month) has health problems, and they have intensified since he launched invasion of Ukraine

Rumours have been circling for years that Putin (pictured gripping table during a meeting last month) has health problems, and they have intensified since he launched invasion of Ukraine

Critics and Kremlin sources have indicated he may be suffering from cancer or Parkinson’s, supported in recent weeks by footage showing the leader shaking uncontrollably and gripping a table for support. 

The Kremlin has always insisted Putin is in robust health.

Earlier Stone said of Putin:’It’s been three years since I saw him for the last time, but the man I knew had nothing to do with the mad, irresponsible and murderous man that the media present today comparing him to Hitler and Stalin.

‘The Putin I knew was rational, calm, always acting in the interest of the Russian people, a true son of Russia, a patriot, which does not imply a nationalist.’

Meanwhile, Christopher Steele, who once operated in Russia as an MI6 agent, said Putin, 69, is having to take regular breaks to receive medical treatments and that there was effectively ‘no clear political leadership’ in Moscow. 

The former spook, who headed up the MI6 desk in Russia for three years, also said the warring president was ‘constantly accompanied’ by a team of doctors. 

Most recently, on May 14, Ukraine’s military intelligence chief Major General Kyrylo Budanov claimed Putin was ‘very sick’, before suggesting that plans for a coup were already underway.  

What was Christopher Steele’s ‘dirty dossier’? 

Christopher Steele’s 2016 ‘dirty dossier’ on the newly elected US President alleged he was in Vladimir Putin’s pocket and claimed he threw an orgy with prostitutes on a Moscow trip.     

The ‘dirty dossier’ was unveiled in January 2017 as Mr Trump prepared to enter the White House and was commissioned by a Washington consultancy. 

The contract to investigate Mr Trump’s links to Russia was handed to Orbis Business Intelligence Ltd – co-founded by Mr Steele, a Russian expert for MI6 for 22 years. 

Six months later, it was leaked to US Democrat politicians and the media, containing claims Putin spent years compiling an embarrassing ‘kompromat’ file on the President.

Mr Steele said Russian spies claimed they filmed an orgy Mr Trump staged in a hotel room there on a business trip.

It also said claimed the Russian security services could blackmail the President-Elect with allegations that he paid prostitutes to urinate on a bed once slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama. 

And the dossier said that not only had Mr Putin’s men given Mr Trump information useful in his election campaign in 2016, but that his allies had in return handed over information on Russians in America.

His evidence was rubbished by Trump, who called it ‘fake news’ and blasted Steele as a ‘failed spy’, but it formed part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Steele branded the publication of the dossier ‘morally repugnant’ and insisted he intended the contents of the report to remain private.  

Mr Steele told LBC this week: ‘Our understanding is that there’s increasing disarray in the Kremlin and chaos.

‘There’s no clear political leadership coming from Putin, who is increasingly ill, and in military terms, the structures of command and so on are not functioning as they should.’ 

Understandably, Mr Steele was unable to reveal his source but said he was ‘fairly confident’ of their claims. 

‘What we do know is that he’s constantly accompanied around the place by a team of doctors,’ said Mr Steele. 

Dmitry Peskov, Putin’s top spokesperson, has repeatedly denied that there are any issues with the dictator’s health.

But Mr Steele said many government meetings at the Kremlin are having to be broken up into sections to allow Putin to leave for medical treatments. 

‘It’s certainly having a very serious impact on the governance of Russia at the moment,’ he said.

But despite his decline, there is little to no chance he will withdraw from Ukraine given the ‘political corner he’s painted himself into’, Mr Steele said. 

He added: ‘It’s probably driving his wish to solidify his legacy as he sees it.’

Mr Steele said that Putin was ‘probably’ suffering from Parkinson’s but that one cannot know ‘the exact details of what his ailment is.’  

Mr Steele was a Russian expert for the MI6 for 22 years. 

He hit headlines in 2016 when his ‘dirty dossier’ on the newly elected US President Donald Trump was leaked. 

In the document he alleged Trump was in Putin’s pocket and claimed he threw an orgy with prostitutes on a Moscow trip. 

Christo Grozev, a Russia expert, said this week that he believes GRU and FSB elites are the most likely to try and topple Putin, because they know the truth of what is happening on the ground.

And those elites are already looking for ways to move their money and families out of the country in anticipation of Putin falling, Grozev claimed.

Speaking to Radio Liberty about what may spark the coup, Grozev said the moment could come if or when Putin orders his generals to carry out a nuclear strike.

‘If Putin decides to give an order to use nuclear weapons, he must be sure that everyone along the chain will carry out this order,’ he said.

Christopher Steele (pictured), who once operated in Russia as an MI6 agent, said Putin, 69, is having to take regular breaks to receive medical treatments and that there was effectively 'no clear political leadership' in Moscow

Christopher Steele (pictured), who once operated in Russia as an MI6 agent, said Putin, 69, is having to take regular breaks to receive medical treatments and that there was effectively ‘no clear political leadership’ in Moscow

‘If one does not comply, then this will be a signal of insubordination. And perhaps even the physical death of Putin.

‘Until he is sure that everyone will comply, he will not give this order.’

Grozev believes similar fears are preventing Putin from giving the order for a general mobilisation of the Russian armed forces and population.

Such an order would allow him to massively boost troop numbers in Ukraine, perhaps shifting the tide of the war in his favour.

But the order would also cause a ‘social explosion’ among ordinary Russians, Grozev says, because it would mean admitting the ‘special military operation’ – which until now Putin has presented as a resounding success – has failed. 

It comes as Putin has launched a major new offensive in the east of Ukraine as he hopes to build on his ‘victory’ in the strategic port city of Mariupol, while Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky urges for a diplomatic end to the invasion. 

The last remaining Ukrainian-held territories in the Donbas region have become central to Putin’s war plans as he looks to take full control of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. 

Vladimir Putin's top security officials realise he has already lost the war in Ukraine and are preparing for the possibility of a coup, an expert claimed this week. (Pictured: Putin with Defence Minister Shoigu)

Vladimir Putin’s top security officials realise he has already lost the war in Ukraine and are preparing for the possibility of a coup, an expert claimed this week. (Pictured: Putin with Defence Minister Shoigu)

What’s wrong with Putin?

Rumours have been circling for years that Vladimir Putin is suffering from health problems, and they have intensified since he launched his brutal invasion of Ukraine.

Critics and Kremlin sources have indicated he may be suffering from cancer of Parkinson’s, supported by footage showing the leader shaking uncontrollably and gripping a table for support.

He has also disappeared from the public eye for weeks at a time, with suggestions he is undergoing surgery.

Valery Solovey, professor at Moscow State Institute of Foreign Affairs first hinted at Putin’s health problems, said in 2020 that Putin had undergone surgery for cancer.

Another unnamed source suggested the operation was on Putin’s abdomen. 

He said: ‘One is of a psycho-neurological nature, the other is a cancer problem.

‘If anyone is interested in the exact diagnosis, I’m not a doctor, and I have no ethical right to reveal these problems.

‘The second diagnosis is a lot, lot more dangerous than the first named diagnosis as Parkinson’s does not threaten physical state, but just limits public appearances.

‘Based on this information people will be able to make a conclusion about his life horizon, which wouldn’t even require specialist medical education.’

The Kremlin has consistently denied that there is anything wrong with Putin’s health. 

Others have previously noted his ‘gunslinger’s gait’ – a clearly reduced right arm swing compared to his left, giving him a lilting swagger.

An asymmetrically reduced arm swing is a classic feature of Parkinson’s and can manifest in ‘clinically intact subjects with a predisposition to later develop’ the disease, according to the British Medical Journal.

In February, Putin was seen with a shaking hand as he firmly gripped the side of his chair for support.

The clip, which was taken on February 18, just before the onset of his invasion of Ukraine, shows him welcoming fellow strongman Alexander Lukashenko at the Kremlin.

He pulls his trembling hand into his body in an attempt to quell the shakes, but then he almost stumbles as he unsteadily walks towards Lukashenko.

Later, Putin sits on a chair but is unable to remain still, constantly fidgeting and tapping his feet while he grips onto the arm for support.

In a meeting last month with defence minister Sergei Shoigu, Putin’s poor posture and his apparently bloated face and neck fuelled the speculation.

Video showed Putin speaking to Shoigu whilst gripping the edge of the table with his right hand – so hard that it appears white – and tapping his foot consistently. 

It means Russian and Ukrainian forces are set for a re-match of one of the biggest battles of the conflict so far, as Putin’s troops prepare another attempt to cross the Siverskiy Donets river, which connects the crucial cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, both in Luhansk. 

They are part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture the capital of Kyiv

Meanwhile Ukrainian president Zelensky said today that the war can only be resolved through ‘diplomacy’, amid a deadlock in negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.

‘The end will be through diplomacy,’ the comedian turned war time leader said, speaking to a Ukrainian television channel. 

He added that the war ‘will be bloody, there will be fighting, but it will only definitively end through diplomacy’.

Recent weeks have seen Russia forced out from the outskirts of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in what was their fastest retreat since being pushed out of the north and Kyiv region at the end of March.

However they have re-taken some of their lost ground in Kharkiv and still control a large swathe of the south and east, while the end of the fighting in Mariupol means that that territory is now largely unbroken.

Footage shared on Telegram today appears to show the moment a Russian Iskander-M strikes a Ukrainian position near Petrovskoye, in Kharkiv, while in village of Vilkhivka, also in Kharkiv, and in nearby Bakhmut, images from Friday show levelled houses and traumatised residents as they returned to take stock of the damage. 

Video has also emerged of a Russian airstrike obliterating a Ukrainian ‘Palace of Culture’ arts centre with a missile thought to have been launched from a strategic bomber as Vladimir Putin launches a major new offensive in the east of the country.

The strike yesterday in the Lozova region of Kharkiv is believed to be a Kh-22 missile launched by a Russian Tu-22M3 bomber, according to defence expert Rob Lee.  

Putin has launched a major new offensive in the east of Ukraine as he hopes to build on his ‘victory’ in the strategic port city of Mariupol, while Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky urges for a diplomatic end to the invasion. 

The last remaining Ukrainian-held territories in the Donbas region have become central to Putin’s war plans as he looks to take full control of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces. 

It means Russian and Ukrainian forces are set for a re-match of one of the biggest battles of the conflict so far, as Putin’s troops prepare another attempt to cross the Siverskiy Donets river, which connects the crucial cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, both in Luhansk. 

They are part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture the capital of Kyiv

It comes as Ukrainian president Zelensky said today that the war can only be resolved through ‘diplomacy’, amid a deadlock in negotiations between Kyiv and Moscow.

‘The end will be through diplomacy,’ the comedian turned war time leader said, speaking to a Ukrainian television channel. 

He added that the war ‘will be bloody, there will be fighting, but it will only definitively end through diplomacy’.

Video shows the Palace of Culture arts centre in the Lozova region of Kharkiv being obliterated by an airstrike 

The Palace of Culture arts centre in the Lozova region of Kharkiv, before it was destroyed by a Russian missile on Friday

The Palace of Culture arts centre in the Lozova region of Kharkiv, before it was destroyed by a Russian missile on Friday

Ukraine's Defence Ministry tweeted a video showing the Palace of Culture being blown up in Lozova, Kharkiv (Pictured: Tweet which shows the centre in the moments before it was destroyed)

Ukraine’s Defence Ministry tweeted a video showing the Palace of Culture being blown up in Lozova, Kharkiv (Pictured: Tweet which shows the centre in the moments before it was destroyed)

The aftermath of a Russian airstrike on a 'Palace of Culture' in the southeastern Kharkiv region

The aftermath of a Russian airstrike on a ‘Palace of Culture’ in the southeastern Kharkiv region 

Huge plumes of smoke bellow into the air after Russia bombs a the Palace of Culture in the Lozova region of Kharkiv

Huge plumes of smoke bellow into the air after Russia bombs a the Palace of Culture in the Lozova region of Kharkiv

The last remaining Ukrainian-held territories in the Donbas region have become central to Putin's war plans as he looks to take full control of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.

The last remaining Ukrainian-held territories in the Donbas region have become central to Putin’s war plans as he looks to take full control of the Luhansk and Donetsk provinces.

Brimstone missiles gifted from UK to Ukraine have ‘changed the dynamic’ on crucial new frontlines of Donbas  

Britain’s advanced Brimstone missiles have ‘changed the dynamic’ in the Ukraine-Russia war, as the two countries battle it out for control of the eastern Donbas region. 

The anti-tank missiles, which were gifted to the eastern European country by the UK, are said to be making Russian formations vulnerable, even if they were miles away from the frontlines. 

Ben Moores, policy adviser on procurement in the Ministry of Defence, said on Twitter: ‘The Ukrainian deployment of Brimstone means that even invading formations that are far back, moving, off road and dispersed are vulnerable. [This] changes the dynamic again.’ 

The Brimstone missiles are guided by radar and have been used by the RAF in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq. 

While usually dropped from the skies, they have been adapted in Ukraine to be launched from ground vehicles or a static launcher, reports the Times. 

They are capable of hitting fast-moving tanks, armoured vehicles and even motorbikes from up to 15 miles away. 

‘It gives the Ukrainians an ability to attack Russian armour at long ranges — not just tanks and armoured personnel carriers but also Russian artillery being transported in vehicles’, Ben Barry, senior fellow for land warfare and the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said. 

‘Once it locks on, it will find itself there pretty effectively’, he added. 

Recent weeks have seen Russia forced out from the outskirts of Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in what was their fastest retreat since being pushed out of the north and Kyiv region at the end of March.

However they have re-taken some of their lost ground in Kharkiv and still control a large swathe of the south and east, while the end of the fighting in Mariupol means that that territory is now largely unbroken.

Footage shared on Telegram today appears to show the moment a Russian Iskander-M strikes a Ukrainian position near Petrovskoye, in Kharkiv, while in village of Vilkhivka, also in Kharkiv, and in nearby Bakhmut, images from Friday show levelled houses and traumatised residents as they returned to take stock of the damage. 

Serhiy Gaidai, the governor of the Luhansk region, said in a social media post early on Saturday that Russia was trying to destroy Sievierodonetsk, with fighting taking place on the outskirts of the city.

‘Shelling continues from morning to the evening and also throughout the night,’ Gaidai said in a video post on the Telegram messaging app.

In early hours on Saturday, air raid sirens were going off in much of Ukraine, including in the Kyiv capital region and the southern port of Odesa, suggesting a continued bombing campaign from the Russian air force.

Capturing Luhansk and Donetsk provinces, much of which make up Ukraine’s industrial Donbas region, would allow Moscow to claim a victory after announcing last month that this was now its objective.

Despite losing ground elsewhere in recent weeks, Russian forces have advanced on the Luhansk front.

‘This will be the critical next few weeks of the conflict,’ said Mathieu Boulegue, an expert at London’s Chatham House think tank. 

‘And it depends on how effective they are at conquering Sievierodonetsk and the lands across it.’

And in a sign that Russia plans on ramping up its war effort, the parliament in Moscow said it would consider letting Russians over 40 and foreigners over 30 join the military. 

However in its intelligence update on Saturday, the UK’s Ministry of Defence said Russia risks losing ‘operational effectiveness’ due to its drones being repeatedly show down or electrically jammed. 

It said Putin’s forces have been using drones to identify targets for combat jets or artillery, a practice it ‘refined in Syria.’ 

It added: ‘Crewed Russian aircraft mostly continue to avoid conducting sorties over Ukrainian territory, likely because of the threat from intact Ukrainian air defence missiles systems. 

‘If Russia continues to lsoe UAVs [drones] at its current rate, Russian force intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capability will be further degraded, negatively impacting operational effectiveness.’  

It comes after the last Ukrainian forces holed up in Mariupol’s smashed Azovstal steelworks surrendered on Friday, according to Russia’s defense ministry, bringing an end to the most destructive siege of the war.

‘The territory of the Azovstal metallurgical plant… has been completely liberated,’ the ministry said in a statement, adding that 2,439 defenders had surrendered in the past few days, including 531 in the final group.

Hours earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said the last defenders at the steelworks had been told by Ukraine’s military that they could get out and save their lives. The Ukrainians did not immediately confirm the figures on Azovstal.

Ukraine’s General Staff of Armed Forces did not comment on Russia’s claim in its morning update on Saturday.

The end of the Mariupol siege was an important symbolic moment for Russia, after a series of setbacks since the invasion began on February 24, but it came at the cost of massive destruction.

Zelensky said the region had been ‘completely destroyed’ by Russia and proposed a formal deal with the country’s allies to secure Russian compensation for the damage its forces had caused.

Ukrainian servicemen sit in a bus after they left the besieged Mariupol's Azovstal steel plant, and are evacuated to Russian-held territory in Donetsk

Ukrainian servicemen sit in a bus after they left the besieged Mariupol’s Azovstal steel plant, and are evacuated to Russian-held territory in Donetsk

Ukrainian servicemen leaving the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Friday, after surrendering to Russian forces

Ukrainian servicemen leaving the besieged Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol, Ukraine, on Friday, after surrendering to Russian forces 

Natalia Zarytska, wife of an Azovstal fighter who surrendered, said she had not heard from him since a Telegram message exchange two days ago. She believed he was still alive.

‘The situation is really hard and horrible and my husband is on the way from one hell to another hell, from Azovstal steel plant to a prison, to captivity,’ Zarytska said in Istanbul, where she and other relatives lobbied Turkey to help save the fighters.

The Red Cross said it had registered hundreds of Ukrainians who surrendered at the plant as prisoners of war and Kyiv said it wants a prisoner swap. 

Moscow said the prisoners will be treated humanely, but Russian politicians have been quoted as saying some must be tried or even executed.



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