Severely ill Putins health has been deteriorating for the past five years

As rumours swirl about the health of Russia's leader and mastermind behind the Ukraine invasion, an independent investigation has found that he has been ill for five years.

Independent Russian media outlet Proekt looked into Vladimir Putin's lengthy public absences and medical visits from 2017, surmising that he has been ill since then.

It comes as former spy Christopher Steele, who headed MI6’s Russia desk, said Putin is seriously ill and requires around-the-clock medical care.

The investigation found that between five and 13 doctors accompanied Putin everywhere he went in 2016 and 2017.

Among them was said to be an ear nose and throat doctor, an infectious disease specialist, a neurosurgeon and an oncologist. The report deduced this from doctors’ check-ins dates and the despot's schedule.

The president had an average of nine doctors accompanying him in 2019, Proekt reported.

Former spy Christopher Steele said he believed Putin’s illness was an ‘element’ of his war in Ukraine.

"Certainly, from what we’re hearing from sources in Russia and elsewhere, is that Putin is quite seriously ill," he told Sky News.

"It’s not exactly clear what this illness is – whether it’s incurable or terminal – but certainly I think it’s part of the equation."

Speculation has been mounting over the true nature of Putin's medical issues, with some reports claiming he has been struck down with cancer and is receiving chemotherapy and steroid treatment.

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Other claims suggest Putin is suffering with Parkinson's disease or the early stages of dementia.

A video went viral last month of the despot failing to control his hand in a plush meeting with a fellow dictator.

Steele continued on LBC: "There's increasing disarray in the Kremlin and chaos in fact, that there's no clear political leadership coming from Putin who is increasingly ill, and that in the military's terms the structures of command and so on are not functioning as they should."

When asked if he thinks "the wheels are coming off", the former spy said: "I do, yes."

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