Putin’s grasp on power teetering on edge as Russian generals ‘upset’ about disastrous war

Russian state TV hosts react to Putin's territory comments

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While President Vladimir Putin continues to wage Russia’s war in Ukraine, his former colleague has hit-out at him, claiming the former KGB agent is “out of it”. Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia’s prime minister from 2000-2004, previously worked closely with Putin, and served during his first stint as President. He said: “When I saw the meeting of Russia’s Security Council I realised, yes, there will be a war. “I just know these people and by looking at them I saw that Putin is already out of it. Not in a medical sense but in political terms — I knew a different Putin.”

Mr Kasyanov’s comments, made in an interview with AFP, come as another indication that Putin does not have overwhelming support among those who have served in the Kremlin.

Counterterrorism and security expert Chris Costa claimed in March that many around Putin will be furious with how he handled the early stages of the invasion.

Mr Costa compared Putin to Slobodan Milošević, who was ousted from power in Serbia in 2000.

The dictator orchestrated the genocides in Bosnia and Kosovo, and was tried for the crimes but no verdict was given due to his death in 2006.

Comparing the two, Mr Costa said the Russian president could be vulnerable to a coup, telling ABC News: “It does indeed and that is exactly the right example, Milošević was a war criminal, he violated laws of conflict and executed a genocide in Bosnia and Herzegovina , he oversaw genocide in Kosovo.

“The bottom line is that he waged indiscriminate war against civilians, however you define it.

“Putin is a problem and he is extremely vulnerable of going the way of Milosevic, to go to some criminal tribunal someday, he is also vulnerable inside Moscow.

“He is vulnerable to his general officers being extremely upset with the way he is waging war right now.”

Darrell Blocker, a former CIA counter-terrorism centre deputy director, also appeared on the panel, warning that Putin doesn’t have the support of his military or his general population.

He added: “When your people are not behind you, whether it’s your military or security service, that’s a huge problem.

“When your people are coming out on the streets and protesting…that is going to add more pressure on Putin than the military services, because he controls them. He does not control the populace.”

While some Russians gathered on the streets to protest against the invasion of Ukraine in the early days of the conflict, Moscow has clamped down on any inkling of dissent.

New draconian legislation has been enforced by the Kremlin, implemented to stop people from “discrediting” the Russian army.

Those found guilty can be dealt a prison sentence of 15 years.

Whether the Kremlin is divided on its Ukraine strategy, and to what extent these divisions exist, is unclear.

Putin has a very small circle of allies that speak to him directly, and the Russian President is secretive when it comes to his political strategy.

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But the Russian ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, indicated that there could be divergences in opinion in Moscow.

Speaking in April, he implied that some inside the Kremlin’s power structures are ready to give up the fight.

Speaking to Russian state TV, he said “The Americans are pushing us into negotiations, but with certain conditions.

“I would specify three of them. First, to stop military action as part of the special military operation. Second, to move our troops back to where they were before 24 February.”

He added that the third demand was “to repent for everything we have done.”

Continuing, Mr Antonov said: “Naturally we are saying firm and clear, and we are unambiguously sure of this – at least the Russian diplomats that work here there will be no such capitulation. Never!

‘We are firmly convinced – and it would have been harder to work without this certainty – that all tasks set by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief will be fully completed. We will never surrender, and never go back.’

By saying “at least the Russian diplomats that work here” – the Putin ally possibly suggested that some are keen to end the conflict.

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