Will Putins allies abandon him? How his inner circle are losing confidence AND power

Putin mouthpiece warns it will 'end badly' if Russia loses in Ukraine

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After three months of fighting, Russia has faced fierce resistance from Ukraine’s military and only been able to make significant gains in the East of the country. Kyiv’s Ministry of Defence has estimated Moscow had lost more than 25,000 soldiers. The Kremlin denied the figures, but it has not stopped rumblings that President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle is losing faith in the incumbent leader.

Christo Grozev, an investigative journalist for Bellingcat, has revealed that a number of the top security officials in Russia believe the war in Ukraine is “lost”.

The likelihood of a nuclear weapon being used in the conflict is also dwindling, as it’s likely President Putin will not have the backing to carry out the order.

But he cautioned that some hardliners might yet push for nuclear or chemical weapons to be used in the war.

Others would say “enough is enough” and “it is better not to waste another 10,000 lives of our soldiers and officers”.

Leading officials don’t trust that Putin will be in power three months from now and so are unlikely to obey his commands, added Mr Grozev.

He told Radio Liberty: “I think that it is the informed elite within the security forces who understand that the war is lost.”

Mr Grozev said that Putin would need a full mass mobilisation to turn the war around. But, it would likely result in a “social explosion” in Russia.

He outlined how if President Putin opted for a nuclear strike, one or more of the “five hands” needed to give the green light could end up defying him.

He added: “And this refusal will be the trigger, most likely, a coup d’état, because after the refusal to comply with the order of the king, everything will go down very quickly.

“If Putin decides to give an order to use nuclear weapons, he must be sure that everyone along the chain will carry out this order.”

Mr Grozev said if one person stepped out of line, it would act as a “signal of insubordination” which could lead to the “death of Putin”.

At present, it’s known that Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Chief of the Defence staff Valery Gerasimov would both need to sanction a nuclear strike.

Claims of President Putin’s inner circle losing faith had been supported by another Russian journalist, who told Fox News that top officials had “lost their mojo” following months of hard fighting.

Forces from Moscow were captured the port city of Mariupol last week, despite besieging the city since the early outbreak of the war.

Ukrainian troops are also holding the line in the East of the country, towards the Russian controlled Donbas region.

Russia’s Defence Ministry has claimed the country had suffered significantly fewer casualties than reported by Ukraine.

But Mr Grozev said that the “elite” within Moscow’s FSB security agency are aware of the real number of soldiers who have died, and know that the loved ones of the dead or missing “do not stop asking questions”.

He said: “They know that this situation will eventually get out of hand.

“These are those parts of the security forces who know the dangers for the regime, and they themselves are now preparing their future.

“Some of them are looking for an opportunity to take their families out of Russia, all are looking for ways to transfer the accumulated money (corruption money in many cases) into dollars and euros.

“This is already a kind of betrayal by these people, because they do not follow the ideological orders of the Kremlin, but are preparing for an alternative reality.”

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