Putin grips table during meeting sparking speculation about his health

The Russian president was filmed holding a meeting with Sergei Shoigu, Russia’s defence minister, during which the pair discussed the ‘liberation’ of the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.

But Mr Putin’s posture and general appearance during the rare televised appearance has raised questions about his health once again.

He can be seen refusing to let go of the corner of the table appearing to use the furniture to steady himself.

The footage has raised further questions over Mr Putin’s health, which some claim has rapidly deteriorated since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.

Mr Shoigu, who some suggested had been sidelined because of ill health or a disagreement over the war, read his short address to Mr Putin.

Anders Aslund, a Swedish economist and former adviser to Russia and Ukraine, said neither Mr Putin nor Mr Shoigu looked well, describing both as appearing ‘depressed and seemingly in bad health’.

‘Shoigu has to read his comments to Putin and slurs badly, suggesting that the rumours of his heart attack are likely. He sits badly. Poor performance,’ he added.

The meeting with Mr Shoigu is not the first time the Kremlin leader has been spotted gripping a table during a meeting.

Mr Putin was also photographed clutching the corner of the table during a meeting with Nikolay Tokarev, the president of Transneft, a Russian state-controlled oil pipeline company, on Thursday.

Speculation over Mr Putin’s health has been rife, since the start of the war.

One report suggested the Russian leader was under near-constant monitoring by cancer specialists, while his noticeably bloated appearance has led to suggestions he may be undergoing steroid treatment.

Some have pointed to Mr Putin’s bizarre use of long tables during talks with other world leaders and ministers as an indicator of clinical vulnerability, suggesting the comical seating arrangement may be because the Russian leader is on immunosuppressant medication.

There have also been various unverified reports on the president’s psychological health, leading to speculation the president may be mentally ‘compromised’.

The Kremlin has always denied reports that Mr Putin has suffered ill health

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