Former CIA Moscow station chief Daniel Hoffman says defence minister Sergei Shoigu may be central to a mutiny to overthrow the president
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A secret plot to oust Russian President Vladimir Putin could already be underway within his inner circle, according to a CIA insider.
Putin’s cronies could already be lurking in the wings if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fails, with concerns and speculation mounting over the president’s health.
Sergei Shoigu, Russian Defence Minister and a close Putin-ally, may be central to a mutiny to overthrow the president, according to ex-CIA Moscow station chief Daniel Hoffman.
He added that if anyone is going to overthrow Putin then it’ll be done in secret so that he doesn’t find them and kill them first.
“Nobody’s gonna ask, ‘Hey Vladimir, would you like to leave?’ No. It’s a f***ing hammer to the head and he’s dead. Or it’s time to go to the sanatorium,” Hoffman told The Daily Beast.
“They schwack him for it. That’s what they’ll do.”
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Hoffman has said there are three key players to keep an eye on if Putin is to be replaced, with Nikolai Patrushev, the chief of Putin’s Security Council, potentially top of the list.
Others include Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia’s secretive intelligence agency FSB and Sergei Shoigu, considered by some as the most probable replacement.
Putin’s position could be under threat if the country’s economy turns south, the country loses more soldiers or general unrest unravels.
However, should Putin be toppled, then Ronald Marks, another ex-CIA agent, fears there could be a huge power struggle in Russia, with chaos ensuing in Moscow.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
“It wouldn’t go to hell right away. We’re not talking about tanks in the street right away. What you’re probably going to see though is among the guys around him, there will be a struggle to take that job,” he warned the Daily Beast.
Russia is believed to have lost up to 10 generals in the war in Ukraine and as many as 30 senior officers.
Latest estimates also suggest that as many as 30,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in action and up to 100,000 have been injured, with the conflict rumbling on for four months.
Russia has reportedly lost over 4,000 tanks and armoured vehicles, 216 combat aircraft, 183 attack helicopters and 620 drones.
There has been speculation about Putin’s health in Russia and, while there is ” no immediate threat “, there is more “chatter” about his future, according to Western officials.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Officials believe the 2024 Presidential election is “looking more interesting than it did six months ago”, with younger people more skeptical of the Kremlin’s rhetoric around Ukraine than the older generations in remote areas, who are generally more supportive of the regime.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian intelligence also feels Putin could be ousted as his inner-circle looks to take control, The Sun reports.
Alexander Bortnikov could be the chosen successor should Putin be overthrown, especially if the Ukrainians can push Russian troops out and away from the Donbas region.