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Putin “in better shape than ever before,” says the Belarusian head of state

FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia's annexation of Crimea in Moscow
FILE PHOTO: Russian President Vladimir Putin delivers a speech during a concert marking the eighth anniversary of Russia’s annexation of Crimea at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia March 18, 2022. RIA Novosti Host Photo Agency/Alexander Vilf via REUTERS/File Photo

March 19, 2022

(Reuters) – Russian President Vladimir Putin is healthy, sane and “in better shape than ever before,” his close ally Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko said in an interview with Japanese television station TBS.

“He and I not only met as heads of state, we have friendly relations,” Lukashenko said in a recording of the interview shared by the state-run BelTA news agency. “I’m privy to all of his details, both state and personal, as much as I can.”

Russia used Belarusian territory as a base for its February 24 invasion of Ukraine.

Western leaders have suggested that Putin make a costly miscalculation by launching the military assault on Ukraine, where Russian forces have suffered heavy casualties and their advance has largely stalled despite their apparent superiority.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called Putin “irrational” and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte “totally paranoid”.

But Lukashenko dismissed the notion that 69-year-old Putin was not at the peak of his powers.

“The West and you should get this stupidity, this fiction, out of your heads,” he told the interviewer.

“Putin is absolutely fit, he’s in better shape than ever… This is a completely normal, healthy person, physically healthy – he’s an athlete.”

“As they say around here – he’ll catch cold at all our funerals.”

Lukashenko also lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The issue is one that Putin has frequently discussed, not least when he claimed in pre-invasion speeches that Ukraine was an artificial construct and an “inalienable part” of Russian history and Culture .

“The collapse of the Soviet Union is a tragedy,” said Lukashenko. “If the Soviet Union had survived to this day, we could have avoided all sorts of conflicts in the world…

“When the USSR existed, the world was multipolar and one pole balanced the other,” he said. “Now the reason for what is happening in the world is unipolarity – the monopolization of our planet by the United States of America.”

(Writing by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Helen Popper)

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Bobby Allyn

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