Putin’s inner circle revolt – He is really close to his defeat

Russian journalist reveals Putin’s inner circle revolt

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Vladimir Putin has come under fierce scrutiny within his inner circle of Kremlin associates as the invasion of Ukraine has proved to be a strategic nightmare for Russia’s military. Following the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied region of Kherson, the President is said to be “close to his defeat” as his leadership faces a drastic decline in support. Journalist Mikhail Zygar unmasked growing tension among the Russian population as well as within Moscow’s elite as Putin is set to be toppled from his position at the top of the Kremlin.

Mikhail Zygar, editor-in-chief of Russia’s TV Rain, told CNN: “[President Putin] is obviously close to the edge.

“He is considered to be a loser by most of his inner circle – it is obvious that he has lost.”

He cited the worsening image of the Russian military following the disastrous invasion of Ukraine as a core reason for the growing level of dissent among President Putin’s cronies.

Speaking of Vladimir Putin’s inner circle of Kremlin colleagues, the Russian journalist added: “He is really close to his defeat, they understand that.” 

Mr Zygar reported: “When he was delivering his victorious speech recognising all those new oblasts in Ukraine, we saw those faces in the audience.

“They were not happy. They were really miserable, all the members of the front row, all the ministers, all the FSB generals.

“They were faceless like they already understand that there is no future for them, there is no future for Putin’s Russia.”

He added: “They still pretend that they are loyal, they still know the rules. They are still afraid of him.”

Read more: Putin dealt blow as Russia chances of conquering Ukraine are null

The withdrawal of troops from Kherson has marked an embarrassing shift in strategy for Moscow.

Kherson was the only regional capital Russian troops had been able to seize in the nearly ten months since the invasion began.

The region was one of four occupied Ukrainian territories the President Putin had declared would be annexed, alongside Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia. 

Notably, it fell to General Sergey Surovikin to make the public announcement of plans to withdraw from Kherson, despite the Russian President having been the primary figure in leading earlier war updates.

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The UK Ministry of Defence has warned the retreat from Kherson will bring “significant reputation damage” for the Russian armed forces.

President Putin, having previously declared Russia would annex Kherson, has remained notably absent from the public sphere since the withdrawal was declared.

The drastic shift in military strategy has emerged alongside reports of wider operational issues within the Kremlin’s army.

Troops are reported to be ill-equipped and many freshly mobilised forces have lacked vital combat training ahead of their deployment to the frontline.

Conflict analysts have indicated the war is likely to enter somewhat of a stalemate throughout the fierce winter months, although Russia is undoubtedly performing far below the expectations set by President Putin in the early days of the invasion.

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