VLADIMIR Putin’s cruel regime is facing total collapse in the next year as his own inner circle turn on him, experts have claimed.
Speaking to The Sun Online, US-based Russia expert Olga Lautman from the Center for European Policy Analysis said: “I would not be surprised if his regime collapses in 2023.”
She said that the overthrowal of the Putin regime is most likely to come from within, rather than from an organic movement of ordinary people.
And she said that the many conspiracies about Vlad’s ill health could have been released by his potential successors in a bid to undermine his regime.
“Rumours about Putin’s health are being put out by security services,” she said.
“They’ve been put out since 2008, always around the time of key events.
“They may be laying the groundwork for Putin’s removal, they could be a form of distraction for the West, or they could be to discourage uprisings.
“Why bother overthrowing Putin if he is about to die?”
But Olga warns that waiting for Putin to die is not a solution.
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“Putin has exhausted all options, but he will drag out the war,” she said.
“He will look for vulnerability in the West, friction between allies, such as between the West and Europe, and between the UK and EU.
“Russia is good at dragging out a war. Putin’s forces first invaded Ukraine in 2014, in March, we are looking at nine years of war in Ukraine.”
She also warned that there is no chance of peace in Ukraine until Putin is gone.
The West needs to work on a post-Putin era of Russia
“Peace in Ukraine means Russia packing up its military and going home,” she said. “It means Russia de-occupying all Ukrainian territory, including Crimea and the Donbas.”
She added: “This won’t happen under Putin. If his regime collapses and there is a new face in the Kremlin that wants to make amends, then there may be short-term changes, but ultimately not a long-term withdrawal.”
And a Russian insider turned dissident has also claimed that Putin’s regime could face collapse in the near future.
Yuri Felshtinsky, co-author of the book “Blowing up Russia” with the late Russian dissident Alexander Litvinenko, told The Sun Online: “Putin thought that he would take Ukraine quickly without losses.”
But he also says that many Russians who have the means to would rather emigrate abroad than look to overthrow the Putin regime.
“Many Russians have left since 2000,” he said. “The second major emigration wave came when Putin invaded Ukraine.
“Those able to emigrate knew that the borders would be closed soon, and mobilisation would follow.
“We don’t know exactly how many Russians have left since the start of the war, but it is in the hundreds of thousands.
“After mobilisation was declared on September 21, some 300,000 more fled.”
Explaining the reason for the lack of major unrest in Russia, he said: “Unfortunately, Russians do not believe anymore in their ability to take down the government.
“Even those who want to think it is easier to emigrate.”
But he believes there are two likely ways in which Putin’s regime could fall.
If the war failure becomes apparent to ordinary Russians, then the government could fall very quickly, as happened with the Soviet-Afghan war in the 1980s.
But he warned that Putin will likely turn to nukes unless Ukraine is given the power to take the war to Russia.
“If the West continues to force Ukraine to conduct a defensive war, and doesn’t supply it with offensive, long-range weapons to attack Russia and Belarus, then the war will not end,” he said.
“It will continue until Putin destroys Ukraine from the air entirely.
“The entire country will look like Mariupol.”
For Putin, he said, losing soldiers on the ground won’t affect him, it will simply be a “free war”, where he can fire into Ukraine without reply.
However, he believes that the West will change its position next year.
Only this month, US President Joe Biden has agreed to supply Ukraine with some $1.4trillion of weapons.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said that the money and weapons weren’t “charity”, they were simply a defence of democracy.
Yuri said that the West is “afraid to provoke a Russian nuclear strike,” which is why it is being careful with the current supplies to Kyiv.
“Putin still thinks he has steps to make before he is either forced to accept defeat in Ukraine, or turn to nuclear retaliation,” he said.
“If Putin accepts defeat, he will likely be forced out by the Kremlin.”
Olga has pointed out that there is the “possibility” of another revolution of Russia, but added that “we shouldn’t rely on that as a solution”.
She said: “The USSR collapsed thanks to Soviet-Afghan war losses in part.
“The high death toll in Ukraine will eventually catch up with ordinary Russians.”
She said that the West needs to prepare for a “post-Putin” Russia, and not make the same mistakes as in the 1990s following the fall of the Soviet Union.
“We have to ensure we don’t repeat the mistakes of the 1990s,” she said.
“In the 1990s we flooded Russia with money for ‘democracy-building’ projects.
“Much of that money went to the Russian mafia, the intelligence services, and corrupt politicians.
“The West needs to work on a post-Putin era of Russia. We need to make sure the sanctions and other measures remain in place for some time until Russian society has changed.”
So how does the West help create a post-Putin Russia?
“Our main goal is to continue to supply Ukraine with everything they need,” she said. “They are fighting for their land, for democracy, and to stop Russia.”
She added: “Even with Russia taking heavy losses and failing to achieve any goals, and with such huge logistical failures on the frontline, they are still getting involved in operations abroad.”
Olga pointed to the recent attempted coup in Germany led by a far-right prince.
“The prince met with a Russian escort,” she said. “This is why it is so important to make sure Ukraine wins on the battlefield, and Russia is destroyed and pushed out of Ukraine.”
Yuri has warned that Putin is likely to move his nukes to Belarus before he fires them, as part of avoiding the risk of a direct retaliatory strike on Russia.
Those nukes could then be pointed at Nato countries such as Poland and Lithuania.
“It is very possible that they will try to use a nuke, or sabotage one of Ukraine’s nuclear power stations,” he said.
Putin has shown no contrition after 10 months of war and more than 100,000 Russian casualties.
In a televised address on Wednesday, he told the Russian people that his country is not to blame for the conflict in Ukraine, and added that both countries are “sharing a tragedy”.
During the appearance alongside senior military officials, he bizarrely insisted that he continues to see Ukraine as a “brotherly nation”.
He argued that the blame for the conflict lay with outside countries, going back to his long-held claims that Nato is behind the war.
In his address, Putin accused the West of “brainwashing” former Soviet republics, including Ukraine, which he believes should rightly be part of Russia.
He said: “For years, we tried to build good-neighbourly relations with Ukraine, offering loans and cheap energy, but it did not work.”
The Kremlin has long claimed that Nato’s acceptance of former Soviet allies as members threatens Russia’s security.
Putin continued: “There’s nothing to accuse us of. We’ve always seen Ukrainians as a brotherly people and I still think so.
“What’s happening now is a tragedy, but it’s not our fault.”