Russian leader Vladimir Putin could face severe internal threats and be at risk of getting murdered or deposed by a member of his inner circle, said a former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) officer.
Daniel Hoffman, a former CIA officer who was once based in Moscow, told The Daily Beast that Putin might face threats from top aides frustrated with his actions in Ukraine.
Per the outlet, Hoffman highlighted three people close to Putin as potential threats: Kremlin security council chief Nikolai Patrushev, Federal Security Service head Alexander Bortnikov, and Sergei Shoigu, the Russian defense minister.
“Nobody’s gonna ask, ‘Hey Vladimir, would you like to leave?’ No. It’s a fucking hammer to the head and he’s dead. Or it’s time to go to the sanatorium,” Hoffman told The Daily Beast. “They schwack him for it. That’s what they’ll do.”
Meanwhile, Ronald Marks, a former CIA officer and currently a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council think tank, told the outlet that Putin might still be safe if the agents protecting him remain loyal.
“And he’s done a nice job of getting rid of those who aren’t on his side,” Marks said.
However, comparing Putin to other ousted Russian leaders, Marks said such figures “either drop dead in office” or get removed from power.
In May, former British intelligence chief Sir Richard Dearlove also speculated that Putin might end up in a sanatorium and be ousted from power by 2023.
That same month, a Ukrainian intelligence official said Putin was the target of an assassination attempt. Western officials refuted that claim, saying that the “controlled environment” around Putin would make an assassination attempt “hugely complex.”
In April, reports speculated that Putin had purged members of his inner circle. According to media reports, similar purges have also occurred amongst national guardsmen in Putin’s “private army” and the Russian military’s top brass.