Kremlin’s power struggles between wagner boss Prigozhin and defense minister Shoigu as sickly Vlad’s exit plans finalized by FSB

Ukraine’s spy chief has said that sickly tyrant Vladimir Putin will die of cancer very soon.

It comes as a leading cheerleader for Russia’s war claimed the race for his crown is underway as rival camps in the Kremlin jostle to seize power.

Rumours have persisted that Putin is “critically ill” after he became bloated and was seen trembling and shaking alarmingly.

Bombshell spy emails published by the Sun magazine confirmed he has early-stage Parkinson’s disease and pancreatic cancer.

Sources also claimed he had emergency surgery last year and was shadowed by top doctors.

Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s chief of defense intelligence, said last night that he is certain that Putin has terminal cancer.

He told ABC News: “He has been sick for a long time.

“I am sure he has cancer. I think he will die very quickly. I hope very soon.”

He added his security agency has obtained intelligence from sources close to the Kremlin despot.

Budanov said: “We just know it – from people, from sources.”

He believes Putin will die soon but not before a humiliating final defeat in Ukraine.

The spy chief said: “This war must end before his death… We will win it in 2023.”

He also said there will be a change of power in Russia after the death of Putin, who has ruled for more than two decades.

Budanov said: “We should not be afraid of its transformation, as it will benefit the whole world.”

However others warned the future direction of the regime is far from certain.

It depends on the outcome of a power struggle which has already begun in anticipation of Putin’s exit, said Russian war analyst and former loyalist Igor Strelkov. 

“The fight for the political Olympus has begun between the groupings surrounding Putin,” he said. 

He added battle to replace him is raging to the extent that “even we can notice it”.

Strelkov, a former colonel in the FSB spy agency, was a key figure in Putin’s annexation of Crimea and subjugation of the Donetsk region of Ukraine in 2014.

In November, he was among three convicted by a Dutch court for downing Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, killing all 298 on board.

Despite this, he remains a key voice inside Russia on the conduct of the war.

The staunchly pro-war blogger, real name Igor Girkin, said the immediate mobilisation of another half a million men is the only way for Putin to avoid defeat and ignominy in Ukraine. 

But he suggested a “feudal” battle among rivals to replace Putin is stoking a “military crisis” for Russia. 

Kremlin infights

He claimed the fight at the top of the Kremlin focuses on insurgent Putin crony Yevgeny Prigozhin, head of the Wagner private army, and loyalist forces in the defense ministry around weakened defence minister Sergei Shoigu.

Others believe security apparatchiks around ex-FSB head Nikolai Patrushev – secretary of the powerful security council – are more likely to pull the trigger on Putin in a bid to save the elite ruling circle if the war continues to go wrong

Some claim the security bloc is lining up his son, Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev, as the frontman to replace Putin if he is forced out by war setbacks or ill health. 

Strelkov sees Prigozhin, a fixer dubbed Putin’s “chef” as he was in charge of Kremlin banquets, as aiming to be a major political force in his own right.

And he said there is evidence he was now securing prominent coverage in the state media.

There has been speculation he wants to become Defense Minister – or even president. 

“The grouping of Yevgeny Prigozhin stands against grouping which includes Sergei Shoigu,” said Strelkov. 

“They have already started the fight. 

“They are not fighting over the number of shells… 

“Now we are speaking about what comes after Putin. 

“Will it happen in one year or two? We don’t know.

“But factually the fight for the political Olympus has begun between the groupings that surround Putin to the extent that even we can notice it.”

Prigozhin wants to become a “political actor” and “he is clearly pumping up his authority, including in public”, Strelkov said.

And he warned: “His latest appearances in the media clearly showed that now he positions himself not just like a war commander, but as a public and a political figure.

“Prigozhin stands against the grouping which Shoigu either heads or belongs to. 

“They have already started to fight.”

He continued: “The military crisis led to a power crisis.

“In turn the power crisis will deepen the military crisis. 

“And it’ll keep going down the spiral, unless urgent measures I mentioned earlier are taken.”

This involves a cull of top commanders and mass mobilisation.

“There will be a second wave of mobilisation,” he forecast. 

“They will be forced to have it, a second and then perhaps a third wave.

“To win in Ukraine we would need about half a million more soldiers.”

Strelkov has key support among army and secret services commanders below the top level. 

He has so far avoided arrest despite biting criticisms of Putin and his leading henchmen. 

He spoke amid claims Putin has approved in principle a huge new mobilisation drive. 

Telegram channel General SVR claimed Putin has agreed plans to call up two million for mobilisation this year, with some going to the front as cannon fodder and others working in military-linked industries. 

The first to be called up will be men in debt to their ex-wives over alimony payments, it claimed. 

Such a move for mass mobilisation could come next month. 

It would be hugely unpopular, coming just months after a chaotic draft of 300,000 reservists.

Thousands of young men scrambled over the borders to escape.

Those who were enlisted said they were forced to sleep on cold barracks floors with not enough food or equipment.

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