Putin's visibility is not what I'd have expected, nor is his leadership, during the last 6 months or so. Ask yourself, is it what you expected?
I'd have expected a strong hand. I'd have expected a lot of appearances. I'd have expected many speeches, assurances, propaganda. What we've had is sporadic, rare appearances and the bare minimum that couldn't be avoided really, seemingly by doubles.
Whatever the reason, something ain't right.
Severe illness would explain it, death would explain it, house arrest would explain it.
It's not like the Russians don't have form for covering things up like this and Putin not being in charge (due to death or illness) explains the lack of decisions being made. It's a power vacuum with lots of maneuvering behind the scenes to arrive at a successor/solution. That all fits far more with what we've seen than Putin still in charge as much as ever but suddenly becoming shy and indecisive, don't you think?
If you were to speculate, what is your explanation?
My best guess is he isn't dead yet, but he is so ill he is not capable of taking charge, which is probably the worst of all worlds for Russia and ending this war. There is certainly positioning going on and some of the criticism is quite unthinkable a year ago. This might be because the war is such a fiasco that they see Putin being removed as is usual for Russian leaders perceived as suffering a loss, or it might be because they know or strongly suspect he is not long for this world.