Russia’s business and political elite are plotting to remove Vladimir Putin from power and re-establish economic and diplomatic links with the West, according to Ukrainian intelligence.
A Facebook post from the Chief Directorate of Intelligence of the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine revealed that there was a plan to depose the Russian strongman “as soon as possible” as Western sanctions begin to take their toll on the country’s economy.
“A group of influential people in opposition to Vladimir Putin is being formed among the Russian business and political elite,” the Facebook post said.
“Their goal is to remove Putin from power as soon as possible and restore economic ties with the West, which were destroyed by the war in Ukraine.”
The intelligence also revealed that the group of Russian elites had identified the head of the Russian Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, as a potential successor.
Mr Bortnikov – who is Russia’s main spymaster – was considered to be within President Putin’s inner circle.
However, the Ukrainian intelligence has indicated the two had a falling out over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“It is noteworthy that Bortnikov has recently fallen out of favor with the Russian dictator,” the post said.
“The official reason for the disgrace of the head of the FSB – fatal miscalculations in the war against Ukraine.
“It is known that Bortnikov and some other influential members of the Russian elite are considering various options for removing Putin from power. In particular, poisoning, sudden illness, or other ‘accident’ is not excluded.”
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Many of Russia’s elites both in the financial and military space have been severely targeted by Western sanctions which continue to seize property and assets they have overseas.
Russia’s critical exports, gas and oil, have also suffered as a result of Mr Putin’s failing war effort.
The United States and many other Western allies have moved to put an embargo on Russian oil, while the critical gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 was scrapped by Germany from the outset of the war.
The invasion effort has reportedly not followed Mr Putin’s plan with the key strategic cities of Kharkiv and Kyiv still withholding Russian attacks.
The Ukrainian intelligence said the information of a potential plot to overthrow the President “came from the Russian side” in a possible attempt to “establish cooperation” with Ukraine and to “bypass” the existing political establishment in Moscow.
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