Russian President Vladimir Putin is drawing fresh speculation about his health after Russian state media photographed him at the head of a new circular table.
Putin was joined by leaders of the Collective Security Treaty Organization countries, including Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, around the "long but round" table amid rumors about the Russian leader's health.
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The new table was used on Monday as leaders discussed "deeper military cooperation and more efficient interaction on an entire range of current and new challenges and threats, including those emanating from Afghanistan," the Kremlin said, as reported by TASS.
Concerns about Putin's health have been circulating since he ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February, as some experts had suggested the Russian leader could be taking steroids or undergoing chemotherapy after appearing bloated in recent appearances, including one when he was seen gripping a table. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had repeatedly dismissed any concerns about Putin's health, including last month when he denied that Putin had undergone surgery for thyroid cancer.
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Putin's table selection was the center of attention when he was photographed at the end of a 20-foot-long white table during February meetings with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Table Separating Macron And Putin Was So Long Due To Macron's Reported Fears Over Russian Spying Via PCR Test https://t.co/pXIxxAtSYK pic.twitter.com/qRsrbadUbj— Forbes (@Forbes) February 10, 2022
Visiting leaders can choose to submit to a Kremlin-administered COVID-19 swab test or sit at the far end of the table. Macron declined to take the test, citing concerns that Russia would have his DNA.