A former CIA chief believes Russian President Vladimir Putin’s time in power could be ended by a ‘secret plot’ led by those in his inner circle. Daniel Hoffman, who was chief of the US intelligence service’s Moscow station, claimed Mr Putin’s trusted confidantes would look to overthrow him if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fails.
Hoffman cautioned that such an attempt to overthrow Mr Putin would be ‘sudden, swift and potentially deadly’. He said: “These guys that are going to do it are going to be so secret about it, so that Putin doesn’t find them and kill them first.
He told The Daily Beast: “It’ll happen all of a sudden. And he’ll be dead. Nobody’s gonna ask, ‘Hey Vladimir, would you like to leave?’ No. It’s a f***ing hammer to the head and he’s dead.”
Speculation has continued over Mr Putin’s health and his future leadership. The Independent reports that Mr Hoffman pointed to three key figures to observe, should the President be replaced.
He named defence minister Sergei Shoigu, Nikolai Patrushev, the chief of Putin’s Security Council; and Alexander Bortnikov, the director of Russia’s secretive intelligence agency the FSB.
His comments came as Russia attacked the Ukrainian capital Kyiv for the first time in weeks, with missiles striking at least two residential buildings. The general prosecutor’s office said preliminary information indicated one person was killed and four injured; Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said four people were taken to hospital with injuries and a seven-year-old girl was pulled alive from the rubble.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his nightly video address that as a war that Moscow expected to last five days moved into its fifth month, Russia “felt compelled to stage such a missile show”.
He said the war was at a difficult stage, “when we know that the enemy will not succeed, when we understand that we can defend our country, but we don’t know how long it will take, how many more attacks, losses and efforts there will be before we can see that victory is already on our horizon”.