OUT OF MIND
Why would an announcement of Putin’s death show up on Dmitry Medvedev’s website?DEBKAfile reports that Russian websites Thursday morning began running unconfirmed reports that Russian President Vladimir Putin had suddenly died. This has not been confirmed by any official in Moscow. But a short announcement of Putin’s death was seen briefly on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s website early Thursday, only to be removed after 20 minutes.
Of course the Kremlin is completely denying that there is anything wrong.Vladimir Putin has postponed a visit to Kazakhstan, officials from both countries said on Wednesday, though the Kremlin dismissed another report that plans had changed because the Russian president was unwell.
Dauren Abayev, adviser and spokesman for Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev, announced the delay of the meeting between the two allies, originally scheduled for this week, without giving a reason or a new date.
Another Kazakh government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters: “It looks like he (Putin) has fallen ill.”
And Putin’s own personal spokesman says that even though a scheduled speech to the Federal Security Service was canceled on Thursday, Putin is well enough to “break your hand” with his handshake…The Kremlin Thursday dismissed rumors that President Vladimir Putin was ill after he canceled a trip to Kazakhstan. The rumors flying through the Russian Internet claimed in fact that the 62-year old Russian leader had suddenly died. Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, asked by Reuters if the president, who had not been seen on live TV since March 5, was in good health, replied “yes”. “He has meetings all the time,” he said by telephone. “He has meetings today, tomorrow. I don’t know which ones we will make public.” A Kemlin website photo of a Putin meeting on March 10 with a provincial government proved to be an old picture. Still, Russian financial markets were stable and the ruble improved in value.
So should we just trust that the Russian government is telling us the truth about this?President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman has dismissed rumors circulating on the Internet that the Russian leader is in poor health.
Dmitry Peskov told Ekho Moskvy radio station Thursday that the president was “absolutely” healthy, adding that the president’s handshake was still so strong it could “break your hand.” Peskov’s comment was a reference to the Kremlin’s usual response to regular queries about the fragile health of former President Boris Yeltsin, who had heart surgery during his tenure.
Peskov also said that Putin would not be appearing at a meeting with the Federal Security Service Thursday, which he often attends.
“Yes, he’s usually there,” Peskov said. “But this year he was not planning to be.”
This all comes at a time when the western world is turning up the heat on Putin.There’s also a history here. At the end of the Soviet era, three separate Communist Party chiefs died suddenly in office, and during the end of Boris Yeltsin’s time as president of Russia, alcoholism and poor health led to a number of unexplained and embarrassing absences. Again, Putin is certainly no Yeltsin — he’s a black-belt in judo and known to be extremely health conscious — but many Russians now assume that the state would lie about the health of its leaders.
And the Obama administration has just made the decision to send drones and armored Humvees to Ukraine…Britain may broadcast the financial secrets of Russia’s ruling elite as part of the information war against the Putin regime, the Foreign Secretary has indicated.
Philip Hammond said he was interested by the idea of publicizing the wealth of the Russian president’s inner circle in order to embarrass them in front of their people, as part of the response to the ongoing incursion into eastern Ukraine.
Needless to say, the Russians are not going to like that one bit. This is something I discussed in an article earlier this week.The United States announced Wednesday that it is sending small unarmed drones, armored Humvees and other assistance to Ukraine in its fight against Russian-backed separatists – but for the first time the White House said arming Ukraine hasn’t been ruled out.
Some lawmakers are upset that lethal weapons haven’t already been included as part of $75 million in new aid announced Wednesday.
Asked during a White House press briefing to confirm that the U.S. won’t send weapons to the former Soviet nation, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said, ‘That’s not necessarily accurate.’
In addition, the Russians have formally announced that they are completely withdrawing from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe…On the question of sending nuclear weapons into Crimea, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Mikhail Ulyanov as saying, “I don’t know if there are nuclear weapons there now. I don’t know about any plans, but in principle Russia can do it.” It’s a position that other Russian officials have articulated in the past. Ulyanov’s boss, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, made similar comments in December.
More surprising was Ulyanov’s warning about the status of the Intermediate Range Nuclear Force Treaty, signed by the U.S. and the Soviet Union in 1987. The deal was designed to eliminate the two countries’ stocks of nuclear and ballistic missiles with ranges of between 300 and 3,400 miles.
The war drums are getting a little louder with each passing day.Moscow has announced it is “completely” ending activities under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). Russia’s participation in the treaty was first halted in 2007.
“The Russian Federation has taken the decision to halt its participation in meetings of the [consulting group] from March 11, 2015. Therefore, Russia is ending its actions in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, announced in 2007, completely,” a statement from the Foreign Ministry said.
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