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Is Putin suffering with 'roid rage'? Spies suggest 'bloated' appearance could be drugs side effect

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Vladimir Putin is suffering from a brain disorder caused by dementia, Parkinson’s disease or ‘roid rage’ resulting from steroid treatment for cancer, intelligence sources have claimed.

Citing sources close to the Kremlin, senior figures in the Five Eyes intelligence alliance – comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States – believe there is a physiological explanation for the Russian president’s globally reviled decision to invade Ukraine.

The intelligence community is sharing a growing number of reports about 69-year-old Putin’s ‘increasingly erratic behaviour’, combined with a bloated appearance in recent footage – and the absurd distance he insists on keeping from visitors to the Kremlin.

A security source said: ‘It is only human sources that can offer you the sort of rich picture that we have of Putin’s psyche.

‘There has been an identifiable change in his decision-making over the past five years or so. Those around him see a marked change in the cogency and clarity of what he says and how he perceives the world around him.’

The source said this failure to think clearly was being compounded by the lack of a ‘negative feedback loop’, with the Russian leader ‘simply not being briefed’ on elements of failures with the invasion.

FEBRUARY 22, 2022: Intelligence sources suggest Vladimir Putin could be suffering with cancer, Parkinson's disease or dementia after the Russian President's health was repeatedly called into question in recent months owing to his appearance

FEBRUARY 22, 2022: Intelligence sources suggest Vladimir Putin could be suffering with cancer, Parkinson’s disease or dementia after the Russian President’s health was repeatedly called into question in recent months owing to his appearance

MARCH 10, 2022: The 69-year-old despot's'bloated face and neck' could be potential side effects of prolonged use of steroids, spies have also suggested. Putin is pictured above on Thursday with considerable bloating around his face

MARCH 10, 2022: The 69-year-old despot’s ‘bloated face and neck’ could be potential side effects of prolonged use of steroids, spies have also suggested. Putin is pictured above on Thursday with considerable bloating around his face

AUGUST 2007: A noticeably leaner Putin is pictured fishing on the Khemchik River in the Tuva region of southeast Russia

AUGUST 2007: A noticeably leaner Putin is pictured fishing on the Khemchik River in the Tuva region of southeast Russia

FEBRUARY 7, 2022: Other security sources have pointed to the fact Putin requires those meeting him in-person to quarantine for two weeks and opts to use long tables to keep people at a significant distance from himself in public appearances. He is pictured above meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron across a 13ft table in Moscow last month

FEBRUARY 7, 2022: Other security sources have pointed to the fact Putin requires those meeting him in-person to quarantine for two weeks and opts to use long tables to keep people at a significant distance from himself in public appearances. He is pictured above meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron across a 13ft table in Moscow last month

It has been reported that Putin had placed Sergey Beseda, the head of the FSB’s foreign service, and his deputy, Anatoly Bolyukh, under house arrest after blaming them for intelligence failings that saw his army handed a series of defeats in Ukraine. 

The intelligence, which is understood to have been passed to senior British political figures, suggests that Putin has suffered a psychological deterioration caused by physiological factors.

They advance theories that Putin is either suffering from a brain condition, such as Parkinson’s disease or a more generic form of dementia, or that he has cancer and the medical treatment he is receiving has altered the balance of his mind.

The last theory, which is considered credible by British intelligence, is that the mental deterioration is the consequence of so-called ‘roid rage’, caused by the prolonged use of steroids.

Sources cite Putin’s decision to physically isolate himself from guests as a sign of a fear of ‘co-morbidities’ – other serious medical conditions that could increase the risk of death – or the use of drugs which suppress the immune system, leaving him open to infections. 

When Putin met Emmanuel Macron last month the French president was forced to sit at the other end of a 13ft table, while many of those entering his presence have been forced to quarantine in hotels for two weeks beforehand.

It has been reported that Putin had placed Sergey Beseda, (pictured left) the head of the FSB’s foreign service, and his deputy, Anatoly Bolyukh, under house arrest after blaming them for intelligence failings that saw his army handed a series of defeats in Ukraine

Anatoly Bolyukh, deputy head of the 5th Service of the Federal Security Service and head of the operational information department, has also reportedly been arrested

It has been reported that Putin had placed Sergey Beseda, (pictured left) the head of the FSB’s foreign service, and his deputy, Anatoly Bolyukh, under house arrest after blaming them for intelligence failings that saw his army handed a series of defeats in Ukraine 

The debris of damaged houses lies on the ground near the spot where a cultural center and administration building once stood, destroyed during an aerial bombing as Russia's advance on the Ukrainian capital continues, in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv on Saturday, March 12

The debris of damaged houses lies on the ground near the spot where a cultural center and administration building once stood, destroyed during an aerial bombing as Russia’s advance on the Ukrainian capital continues, in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv on Saturday, March 12

The Russian president has appeared notably more bloated around the face and neck recently, which can be a side effect of steroids – along with ‘mood and behavioural changes’.

A French official was also quoted after Macron’s meeting as saying that Putin was ‘not the same’ as when Mr Macron met him two years earlier, having in some respects ‘gone haywire’.

One British intelligence source insisted they were confident of the reliability of the information on Putin’s health, saying: ‘Our intelligence visibility on Russia is just extraordinary. The difference in the quality of our sources around Putin compared with Xi and China is staggering.’

It comes as members of Interpol have called for Russia to be ejected from the international police organisation, to deny Moscow access to sensitive information.

British officials blame Interpol’s president, Major General Ahmed Nasser al-Raisi, for blocking moves to eject Russia.

The Emirati general was appointed to the post despite fierce objections from human rights groups, which accuse him of complicity in torture when he was inspector general of the interior ministry in the UAE.

Seize Russian oligarch mansions to house Ukrainian refugees: Michael Gove demands ‘ultimate payback for Putin’s cronies’ as No10 pledges £350 a month for Brits who take in people fleeing Russia’s war 

By Glen Owen, Political Editor for the Mail on Sunday 

Russian oligarchs’ multi-million-pound mansions would be seized and used to house Ukrainian refugees under an extraordinary plan being championed by Michael Gove.

The Levelling Up Secretary has argued passionately in Cabinet that the move would be ‘payback’ for Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cronies in Britain. 

His plan is being blocked by senior figures in the Treasury and the Foreign Office who believe it is ‘not legally workable’, but one supporter of the Gove scheme last night angrily described opponents within Government as ‘oligarch apologists’.

The row came as No 10 announced that ordinary families who house Ukrainian refugees will be paid £350 a month under a new ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme.

It’s hoped that tens of thousands of people will be accommodated under the scheme, helping to tackle Europe’s biggest refugee crisis since the Second World War. 

A man walks into a crater created by the impact of an aerial bomb that destroyed a cultural center and an administration building in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv

A man walks into a crater created by the impact of an aerial bomb that destroyed a cultural center and an administration building in the village of Byshiv outside Kyiv

A member of the Ukrainian forces takes position behind a car in Irpin, a neighbouring city of Ukraine which has seen intense bombardment

A member of the Ukrainian forces takes position behind a car in Irpin, a neighbouring city of Ukraine which has seen intense bombardment

More than 2.3 million people have fled the war in Ukraine and another 1.9 million are displaced within the country, a United Nations official has said.

The plans come after the Home Office was heavily criticised for its ‘chaotic’ response to the humanitarian disaster.

In contrast, the British people have acted quickly and generously to help. The record-breaking Mail Force Ukraine Appeal has reached a remarkable £6.6 million alone.

In another grim day in Ukraine yesterday:

  • Kyiv became a fortress ahead of an expected onslaught, with Russian forces now within 15 miles of the capital’s centre;
  • Russian shelling of besieged cities including Kharkiv, Mykolaiv, Dnipro and Sumy continued as one governor said the South-Eastern city of Volnovakha has been destroyed;
  • Putin rebuffed a new appeal for a ceasefire but, in a glimmer of hope, negotiators discussed ‘concrete’ proposals for a peace deal for first time as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was willing to negotiate, but would not surrender nor accept ultimatums;
  • Zelensky said 79 children had been killed in Ukraine during the war and 1,300 Ukrainian troops, but claimed the Russian army has suffered its largest losses in decades, with an estimated 6,000 deaths;
  • Moscow threatened the West that any military shipments to Ukraine will be seen as ‘legitimate targets’, prompting fears the conflict could dramatically escalate;
  • Putin was urged to lift the siege of the southern city of Mariupol where more than 1,500 civilians have died;
  • Residents took to the streets of the occupied city of Melitopol to protest against the abduction of its mayor by Russian forces;
  • Intelligence sources claimed Putin may be suffering from dementia, Parkinson’s disease or ‘roid rage’ resulting from steroid treatment for cancer.

Mr Gove, who first raised the prospect of seizing oligarchs’ homes in Cabinet a fortnight ago, ran into opposition last week at the first meeting of a sub-committee looking into the UK’s refugee response. 

At the meeting, Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly and Treasury Minister John Glen expressed their departments’ reservations about the idea.

Last night, a backer of Mr Gove’s plan said: ‘The opposition is being led by oligarch apologists who hide behind the rule of law.’ 

But one of Mr Gove’s opponents said the plan is ‘not legally workable’ and condemned it as ‘gesture politics more suited to a banana republic’.

More than 2.3 million people have fled the war in Ukraine and another 1.9 million are displaced within the country. Pictured: Desperate Ukrainian refugees wait outside an immigration office in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, March 9

More than 2.3 million people have fled the war in Ukraine and another 1.9 million are displaced within the country. Pictured: Desperate Ukrainian refugees wait outside an immigration office in Brussels, Belgium on Wednesday, March 9

Europe is facing its worst refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War. Pictured: A father plays with his daughter for potentially the last time before she boards a west-bound train from Kyiv

Europe is facing its worst refugee crisis since the end of the Second World War. Pictured: A father plays with his daughter for potentially the last time before she boards a west-bound train from Kyiv

Cars line the streets out of Kyiv as desperate residents try to flee the city which is bracing itself for an imminent onslaught from Russia

Cars line the streets out of Kyiv as desperate residents try to flee the city which is bracing itself for an imminent onslaught from Russia

A Ukrainian serviceman exits a damaged building after shelling in Kyiv with Russians closing in on the city

A Ukrainian serviceman exits a damaged building after shelling in Kyiv with Russians closing in on the city

Under the ‘Homes for Ukraine’ scheme, sponsors who provide accommodation rent-free for a minimum of six months will receive a ‘thank you’ of £350 per month, however many refugess they take. Sponsored refugees will be granted three years leave to remain in the UK and be allowed to work and access public services.

Mr Gove said: ‘The crisis in Ukraine has sent shockwaves across the world. The UK stands behind Ukraine in their darkest hour and the British public understand the need to get as many people to safety as quickly as we can. I urge people across the country to join the national effort and offer support to our Ukrainian friends.’

A website will launch tomorrow to allow sponsors to register offers of accommodation. Those applying will be vetted and Ukrainians will undergo security checks. 

However, as The Mail on Sunday reports today, security chiefs have expressed concern at watering down visa requirements.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has been criticised over the slow rate of approval of visas for Ukrainian refugees, prompting Boris Johnson to demand an end to ‘hostile leaks’ from within her department.

But many organisations are already stepping up, such as London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital, which is set to receive ten children with cancer who were evacuated from Ukraine in an incredible rescue mission.

Meanwhile, Chelsea Football Club was thrown a lifeline by the Government yesterday as officials agreed it could be sold by its sanctioned owner Roman Ambramovich.

And amid calls for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to cut fuel duty as the price of oil spirals because of the sanctions, Mr Johnson is set to travel to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to negotiate increased supplies.

Tomorrow the PM will host leaders of the Joint Expeditionary Force, a Northern European security coalition, at Chequers. 

Cabinet split over Michael Gove’s plan to seize Russian oligarch mansions to house Ukrainian refugees, as critics brand the idea ‘gesture politics more suited to a banana republic’ 

By Glen Owen, Political Editor for the Mail on Sunday 

When Michael Gove launched into some of his typically rousing rhetoric at Cabinet last month, calling passionately for the mansions of Russian oligarchs to be seized and opened up to Ukrainian refugees, Boris Johnson murmured his assent.

But a fortnight later, the Levelling Up Secretary is still fighting to overcome resistance to his idea from the Treasury and Foreign Office, where officials shiver at what one source dismissed as ‘banana republic politics’.

For their part, supporters of Mr Gove’s plan describe the opponents as ‘oligarch apologists’.

The debate flared up again last week at the first meeting of a Cabinet sub-committee on Ukraine, chaired by Downing Street’s chief of staff Steve Barclay, which has been tasked with examining ‘every facet’ of the UK’s refugee response.  

Roman Abramovich’s £540m superyacht Eclipse, pictured off the French coast in July 2019 sailed past Gibraltar at lunchtime today, within two miles of British territorial waters where the vessel could have been seized by the Royal Navy 

Abramovich's super yacht Eclipse skirted the Moroccan coast as it past Gibraltar at 1.30pm to avoid Royal Navy patrol vessels

Abramovich’s super yacht Eclipse skirted the Moroccan coast as it past Gibraltar at 1.30pm to avoid Royal Navy patrol vessels

When Mr Gove highlighted the powerful symbolism of his proposed move, Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly and Treasury Minister John Glen voiced their departments’ reservations. 

Under Mr Gove’s plan, British property owned by oligarchs sanctioned because of the war would be taken over by the Government for as long as they remained on the list, allowing Ministers to throw open their doors to refugees.

In the case of Roman Abramovich, Britain’s most high-profile oligarch, that would release at least 70 properties, worth around £500 million.

The portfolio includes a 15-bedroom mansion at Kensington Palace Gardens with an estimated value of £150 million, and a three-storey penthouse in the Chelsea Waterfront tower, bought for £30 million in 2018. Abramovich had his assets – including Chelsea FC – frozen on Thursday as part of Government sanctions.

Another sanctioned oligarch, aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska, worth £2 billion, owns a £50 million property on Belgrave Square in Central London, via a company registered in the British Virgin Islands, and Hamstone House on the exclusive St George’s Hill estate near Weybridge, Surrey. The eight-bedroom mansion includes a swimming pool, sauna, gym and extensive gardens.

Mr Gove’s plan echoes moves by the US Congress to seize assets from oligarchs whose wealth is linked to Vladimir Putin. 

Under a bill introduced earlier this month, American authorities would be allowed to go further than Mr Gove’s plan by confiscating, rather than just seizing, any property – including luxury villas, yachts, and airplanes – valued more than $5 million with the funds used to benefit the Ukrainian people via military or humanitarian aid.

Supporters of Mr Gove’s plan also point the finger at No 10’s new head of policy, Andrew Griffith, for trying to block it. 

Mr Griffith, the Arundel MP, is a former Rothschild banker and chief financial officer for Sky TV, who is understood to have argued that the idea is not ‘legally workable’.

An opponent of the Gove plan said: ‘This is gesture politics more suited to a banana republic’.

But a supporter said: ‘The opposition is being led by oligarch apologists who hide behind the rule of law. These people have been sanctioned for a reason, and no one who has been placed on the sanctions list has ever come off it. This is the ultimate symbolic payback for Putin’s cronies.’

Downing Street declined to comment and a spokesman for Mr Gove said: ‘We don’t comment on private Cabinet discussions.’

Defiance amid home-made barricades of Fortress Kyiv: Brave residents vow ‘I will not leave’ Ukrainian capital as Russian forces press on the city, RICHARD PENDLEBURY writes 

By Richard Pendlebury and photographer Jamie Wiseman in Kyiv for the Mail on Sunday

A lovely morning in Fortress Kyiv. Clear blue skies and a hint of spring in the air. Alas, spring has some aerial competition here.

We are outside the Clinical Hospital No 7, on the western fringes of this vast metropolis when, like an orchestra tuning up, the gathering battle for the Ukrainian capital runs through its full acoustic range. First there is a profound, window-rattling ‘boom!’ as some heavy explosive falls to earth.

Then, from the wooded hillside in the visible near distance, there comes – to our surprise and dismay – a burst of heavy machine-gun fire.

And again. And again. Are they really that close?

Finally, a continuous roar overhead – what sounds like a Russian jet.

However, I’m advised it’s the launch of a missile by Ukrainian air defence forces. That distinction is a fine one. One such noise follows the other.

Nearby, two young women are sitting on a bench in the garden of a shabby block of flats. They say they are refugees from the bitterly contested town of Hostomel to the north-west.

That is where a Russian airborne division seized an airfield in the early hours of the war and are now poised to strike at Kyiv.

‘We’ve been here three days,’ they tell me. ‘And this is the noisiest it’s been yet.’

The bulk of Russian forces are now no more than 15 miles from the city centre, reports suggest. But will they be able to penetrate the capital’s increasingly intricate defences? Because Fortress Kyiv is just that.

A night of uneasy sleep ends with a heavy thud at 6.10am. Watch-checking has become a reflex action whenever something loud happens during darkness hours. 

The noise is as if clumsy removal men had just dropped a double wardrobe somewhere in the next-door house.

Daylight comes all too soon, and photographer Jamie Wiseman and I venture out to take the temperature of the city and its resolve to resist.  

The bulk of Russian forces are now no more than 15 miles from Kyiv's city centre, reports suggest. But will they be able to penetrate the capital’s increasingly intricate defences? Because Fortress Kyiv is just that. Pictured: Soldiers man a checkpoint made up of a 1970s Russian-made Volga

The bulk of Russian forces are now no more than 15 miles from Kyiv’s city centre, reports suggest. But will they be able to penetrate the capital’s increasingly intricate defences? Because Fortress Kyiv is just that. Pictured: Soldiers man a checkpoint made up of a 1970s Russian-made Volga

There are a host of arresting sights to be found, not least the battered 20-year-old Russan-made Lada (pictured above) with a First World War Red Army vintage machine-gun on its bonnet, now integral to one of the street barricades

There are a host of arresting sights to be found, not least the battered 20-year-old Russan-made Lada (pictured above) with a First World War Red Army vintage machine-gun on its bonnet, now integral to one of the street barricades

There are a host of arresting sights to be found, not least the battered Lada with a First World War Red Army vintage machine-gun on its bonnet, now integral to one of the street barricades.

Another is on Khreshchatyk Street, among the oldest and most important thoroughfares in Kyiv: a 6×25-metre advertising hoarding for a Ukrainian online betting company.

What catches the attention is that it features a giant-sized badge and player images of Chelsea Football Club.

How ironic considering that club’s finances have just been frozen because of owner Roman Abramovich’s links to Putin. But the hoarding – ‘Proud to be a Partner of Chelsea’ – remains untouched in the middle of Kyiv.

The locals have far more pressing matters to attend to. Thousands of fighting positions, iron and concrete tank obstacles and sandbagged redoubts are being thrown up across this cussed, determined city. Every entry into a neighbourhood from the ring-road is barred.  

A popular logo on the outward face of these defences is the trident symbol of Ukraine, adapted to resemble a fist with a middle finger raised and the slogan ‘Russian soldier go f**k yourself’.

A strange and frightening thing happened in Khoryva Street – another old part of the city – yesterday morning.

A small explosive drone hit an office building at 6am. It only partially detonated and as the building was unoccupied, no one was hurt.

Still, it created a large hole in the mansard roof of the 200-year-old structure.

Glassless window frames flap in the mild breeze. The cobbled pavement below is covered in tiles, charred joists and weather-beaten lichen. Who fired the explosive?

The popular opinion is a Russian infiltration team. Indeed, there is a security HQ nearby and next door is a branch of Oschadbank.

A hoarding outside, untouched for three weeks, gives the exchange rate for the Ukrainian hryvnia to the euro, the US dollar and, yes, the Russian rouble.

We drive south out of the city, passing military wrecks and debris left on the highway from an unsuccessful Russian thrust in the first days of the war.

Driving has become a little hazy, not least at major junctions where the traffic-light system sometimes fails and some drivers seem to feel that in wartime the rules of the road don’t count. We cannot go directly south on the main highway, which is closed with tank obstacles. Kyiv has become a city of detours.

The perimeter is tightening and there is a queue into the centre from the direction of a village that was described to me as the ‘Beverly Hills’ of Kyiv.

How many of those cars will be abandoned, along with so many other vehicles at Kyiv railway station, as their owners flee west? 

A warehouse storing frozen products is seen on fire after shelling, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues on Saturday March 12, in the village of Kvitneve in Kyiv region, Ukraine

A warehouse storing frozen products is seen on fire after shelling, as Russia’s attack on Ukraine continues on Saturday March 12, in the village of Kvitneve in Kyiv region, Ukraine

Our destination is the SOS Animal Shelter, situated on a wooded hill on the other side of the city’s ring road.

Out here, there is only the cawing of crows. Trees are full of mistletoe balls and houses have corrugated iron roofs and lavatories at the end of the garden.

We are met by a canine cacophony. 

There were already 1,000 dogs and cats here but dozens more have become resident since the war began. ‘Refugees drop off their dogs and cats here when they flee, and we take every one,’ says the director Natalia.

The easily-portable lap-dogs and small terriers have gone West with their owners. The larger dogs are left here. I think of my own dog, Maggie, a black Irish greyhound, all muscle and bone and 60lb of utter inflexibility. She would be quite unable to fit in a handbag or a carry-box amid the railway refugee scrum.

And so, if her home had been Kyiv, she would probably have been left here, too. And she really hates loud noises.

Natalia, who says she hears the sounds of bombing every day and sees Russian drones overhead, begins to cry.

She says: ‘An animal shelter like mine, in Borodianka [a town 50 miles north-west of Kyiv], was totally destroyed. But I will not leave.’

So speaks Fortress Kyiv on another difficult day.

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