Russian President Vladimir Putin’s closest Kremlin cronies are said to have lost confidence in the strongman and are discussing among themselves who will replace him, according to a new bombshell report.
The Kremlin cabal has already drawn up a list of potential candidates to replace Putin, including former President Dmitry Medvedev, Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin, and Sergei Kirienko, the president’s deputy chief of staff, the Russian-English news website Meduza reported, citing several sources close to the leader’s regime.
As of late, Kirienko has been in constant communication with Putin about the situation in Ukraine’s hotly contested Donbas region and the economy, and he is widely considered to be a member of the president’s “inner circle.”
“It’s not about them wanting to prepare a plot and overthrow Putin right now,” an unnamed source told Meduza. “But there is an understanding, or a desire, that in the fairly foreseeable future he will not run the country.”
At the same time, Meduza’s sources said everyone in the government realizes that Putin will step down only if his health takes a turn for the worst.
This regime-change talk comes against the backdrop of persistent — yet unconfirmed — rumors that Putin has terminal cancer and a host of other serious illnesses.
Another source claimed that three months into Russia’s war with Ukraine, the dissatisfaction with Putin is growing among the country’s moneyed elites, who have been hit hard by five consecutive rounds of sanctions, with a sixth on the way.
“Almost no one is happy with Putin,” the source told the outlet. “[The business community] and many members of the government are unhappy that the president started the war without considering the scale of the sanctions.”
The hope now is that whoever eventually succeeds Putin would be able to reach a deal with Ukraine and the West “to undo all he had wrought.”
Meduza’s sources claimed that since the outbreak of the conflict with Ukraine on Feb. 24, Putin has managed to “set everyone against himself,” both those who want to seek peace and those who want to carry on with the invasion.
“Mildly pessimistic” Kremlin bureaucrats do not see a realistic scenario in which the regime could end the invasion — and at the same time maintain Russia’s prestige, reported Meduza.
Meanwhile, the pro-war “hawks” are unhappy with the slow pace of the war and are clamoring for more decisive actions.
“They believe that since we’re already in [the war] — we cannot show weakness,” a source said. “We must act more harshly.”
That could mean a general draft and war “until victory” — “ideally the capture of Kyiv,” the source continued.