VLADIMIR Putin will be ousted in a “palace coup” staged by his inner circle within two years, according to new intelligence analysis.
As the war in Ukraine drags and sanctions bite, even the Russian tyrant’s cronies will see his “toxic” behaviour as a threat to their wealth and power so it’s “highly likely” they will depose him, the experts say.
Their assessment is that “it’s likely to highly likely that President Putin will not be in the position he is within the next two years” if the West ramps up sanctions.
But rather than the mass uprising like the one that deposed Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi – which he is said to fear – Putin’s end will come from within.
At a briefing, Dragonfly said that given the security around Putin, it’s unlikely such an uprising or a coup by spies and soldiers would succeed.
Instead, Putin’s fate lies in the hands of his inner circle of six cronies, made up of military, security and business figures – “squat men in ill-fitting suits”.
They are the only people Putin trusts and they have been unswervingly loyal to him – until now.
They are Sergei Naryshkin, head of the foreign intelligence service, defence minister Sergei Shoigu, Alexander Bortnikov, a former head of the FSB internal security service and Nikolai Patrushev the head of Russia’s Security Council.
Also in the group are Sergei Chemezov, the head of state-owned defence conglomerate Rostec, and oligarch Igor Sechin, the boss of the Rosneft energy giant.
Sechin’s £458 million yacht and a £140 million vessel belonging to Chemezov were seized in Spain after they were sanctioned by the EU for ties to Putin.
These men are known in Russia as the “siloviki” which translates as “men of force”.
All have experience working with Putin in the Soviet-era KGB security service or in the St Petersburg city administration.
They motivated by “cash and the ability to spend it and the buy into this theory that the Russian empire is returning and President Putin is driving that”, says Dranonfly.
“The challenge is what happens when Putin’s position no longer guarantees the safety and financial security of the individuals around him.
“Clearly some of that is underway – the sanctions are unprecedented.”
According to the intelligence analysts, there is a “contract” between this inner circle plus other oligarchs and Putin.
“You can have your cash and you can spend it in St Tropez and you can buy your enormous megayachts and send your children to British public schools and Western institutions for education.
“The deal on my side being you’ll never challenge my position, you will not get involved in politics and when needed I can call on you for favours.”
But the “truly dangerous scenario” is that Putin’s actions make him “genuinely toxic as a leader and by toxic, genuinely endangering the safety and financial security of these individuals”.
“The danger scenario for Putin now is…there’ve very little alternative contract that he can offer the oligarchs and these individuals.
“There’s very little chance that a counter offer of how about you send your children to elite educational institutions in Beijing and holidaying in the Black Sea is as attractive as St Tropez or Oxford.”
The worry for Putin is that as the war drags on the West ramps up sanctions to the stage where Russian genuinely enters a financial crisis
That will place additional pressure on President “to keep his key advisers and those that need cash to stay on board on side”.
“At that stage we need to start thinking about a palace coup, of efforts to remove President Putin.”
That would involve “elements within President Putin’s Kremlin or the security services or critically any of the six individuals deciding that him as a leader has become too toxic to their position and as a result is a threat to them”.
But there won’t be soldiers in combat gear on TV “explaining that the President has fallen ill and so on”
“What we would be more likely to see a group of squat men in ill-fitting suits walking into the Kremlin.
“President Putin then being explained as either ill or having to step down for other reasons – family reasons and so on.
“And what we effectively end up with is President Putin being removed and replaced with someone plucked from the same relative obscurity that he one occupied.”
Whether there’s change in the new leader’s attitude to the West is the “million dollar question”.
But at this stage the thinking is that “it would be far more of a “rebrand rather than a reset”.
On an upbeat note, Dragonfly says “any new cabal in charge of the Kremlin…would start with an end to the conflict in Ukraine or at least return to good-faith negotiations.”