Rumours are swirling in Moscow that a number of former generals and KGB officials are preparing to oust Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and plan to end the war in Ukraine, which is increasingly seen across Russia as a strategic mistake and, above all, an economic disaster.
The top of Putin’s former employer – the Russian security service FSB – is said to be so frustrated about the lack of military progress in Ukraine that it has reached out to a number of generals and former army officials, according to various analysts and local media reports.
In particular a group called the ‘Siloviki’ – which comprises of former FSB officers who are active in Russian politics – is said to be pushing hard to replace Putin, together with former officers from the GRU, KGB and FSO, other Russian intelligence units.
The idea a coup may be increasingly likely is further strengthened by social media activity across Russia and Eastern Europe, which has gone into overdrive in the last 24 hours.
Moreover, analysts in and outside Russia have said all signs are there that Putin will face a coup soon.
The Russian president is reportedly “very worried” and has tightened security in and around the Kremlin.
“Does it matter? It matters a lot,” said Russian security expert Andrei Soldatov told The Center for European Policy Analysis.
“The Russian President has been bracing for a coup for some weeks as has faced fierce criticism over his “special operation” in Ukraine and he has purged around 150 of his spies over the constant failures,” Soldatov explained.
“This is the very first time the siloviki are putting distance between themselves and the President. Which opens up all sorts of possibilities.”Russian security expert Andrei Soldatov
Moreover, rumours are also going round Putin’s health has taken a hit since the start of the war. On a number of videos the Russian president looks tired and irritated.
Growing tensions between FSB and Kremlin
It has become evident that the relationship between the FSB and Putin has deteriorated since the start of the war.
Last month, two senior officers in the FB, were put under house arrest by Putin.
Andrei Soldatov who runs, the well-informed investigative website Agentura, reported that Sergei Beseda, the head of the Fifth Service – the FSB’s foreign intelligence branch – and his deputy had been detained and put under house arrest.
The move was seen as a clear sign Putin is deeply concerned about the FSB’s role in the offensive against Ukraine and he fears forces within the intelligence apparatus may be working against him, Western officials told the Agentura platform.
“Both men have played a major role in intelligence operations against Ukraine for several years and highly likely played a major role in the planning for the invasion,” one said.
“There could be significant changes at senior levels in the FSB.”
Russian analyst Alexey Muraviev is also convinced that the Russian President is facing a coup from his top military and intelligence chiefs.
Muraviev told Sky News Australia that an attempt to remove Putin may be extremely likely because “I think that there have been tensions between Russia and the intelligence community and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin.”
“Clearly, there’s been a clear error of judgment that was made and it was probably driven by Putin himself about the situation in Ukraine.”Russian analyst Alexey Muraviev
“I think that sort of false narrative was presented to them by the Supreme Commander in Chief, and when it fired back when the Russians began taking heavy casualties, Putin began quietly blaming the security services,” he continued.
“I don’t think went really well also because he’s coming from within the security apparatus.”
“About the initial planning and the initial phase of the invasion where the Russian military naturally assume that they’re going there as liberators rather than the invaders,” he explained.
When approached by City A.M., no one at the Kremlin was available to comment.