In recent months, there has been significant uncertainty about Russian President Vladimir Putin's health, with allegations that he has cancer, Parkinson's disease, or has even survived an assassination attempt.
However, no doctor's note has been presented to validate the rumors.
“He can stay in power for 10 years or more if he wants. It depends on the circumstances,” political analyst Tatiana Stanovaya told Al Jazeera.
“I wouldn’t pay too much attention to the problem of his health,” she added.
The Federation Council has 14 days to call presidential elections if the 69-year-old passes away or unexpectedly leaves office; if it doesn't, the Central Election Commission would.
Ukraine's Chief of Defense Intelligence has claimed Russian leader Vladimir Putin has been battling cancer for a "long time" and will die "very soon."
Ukraine's Chief of Defense Intelligence, Kyrylo Budanov, stated that sources close to the Kremlin leader confirmed Putin, 70, was suffering from cancer.
According to accounts in independent Russian media sites, members of the Russian elite were shocked and uneasy when Putin announced the invasion of Ukraine on February 24 and justified it as a necessary step.
The claims come after Putin canceled two public events near the end of last year, including his annual state address and a visit to a tank manufacturing plant.
There was speculation at the time that the cancellations were due to his health.
Separately, a new Western intelligence analysis bizarrely claimed that megalomania caused by cancer drugs was a factor in his decision to launch his disastrous war in Ukraine.
It's really difficult to imagine Putin leaving anytime soon, security expert Mark Galeotti said Al Jazeera. Despite the rumors about his illness, there is no proof that he is gravely ill, and given how disastrously the war has gone, I don't think he would leave his post unless his colleagues push him to.
In a rare interview with ABC News, Mr. Budanov was pressed on several issues, including Putin's health and the possibility of missile strikes in Russia and Crimea.
He stated that strikes into Russian territory would undoubtedly continue this year, but he refused to accept responsibility for them on behalf of Ukraine's defense forces.
The defense chief said the "war must end before his death" after claiming the Russian autocrat's life was apparently in danger, "The war must end before his death," Mr. Budanov declared.
He predicted that Ukraine would triumph in 2023, adding that Putin's death would benefit "the entire world" and urging the West not to be afraid.
When asked if the Russian leader was "terminally ill," Mr. Budanov replied, "Of course. He's been sick for a long time. I believe he will perish quickly. I hope.
He said he "just knew" the leader was ill because he had learned about it from sources close to Putin.
Amid rumors about Putin's health, there have been questions about who could replace him and whether his death would be beneficial.
When a series of domestic Russian announcements by Putin proved unpopular with the populace late last year, former MI6 chief Sir Alex Younger suggested that his replacement could be "the chauvinistic, nationalistic, arguably fascistic right-wing" factions of the Kremlin.
Mr. Budanov also stated in the interview that strikes in Russian territory could occur "deeper and deeper." However, he maintained the official policy of not claiming responsibility for any attacks.
On December 5, explosions were recorded at Russia's Engels-2 and Dyagilevo airbases, about 450 miles from the Ukrainian border, destroying much Russian military equipment.
When probed on whether he would continue to fire missiles in Crimea, Mr. Budanov said it was "Ukrainian territory."
"We can use any weapon on our territory," he said.
Putin's decision-making is a major reason for Russia's failures in the Ukraine war.
The head of Russian analysis at the Danish Defence Intelligence Service — whose identity is so secret he was named only as Joakim earlier stated that It wasn’t poor intelligence but Putin’s ideological convictions that led Russian soldiers to believe they would be greeted with flowers.
He also stated that the Russian president was the reason everything was planned by a narrow circle of people and only shared through the ranks at the very last minute.