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Russia insider says Putin could be overthrown in coup

By Francis Walshe
|
February 4, 2023

A Russian political analyst and former speechwriter for President Vladimir Putin told CNN in a recent interview that the military there may stage a coup over the growing issues surrounding the country’s ongoing invasion of neighboring Ukraine.

Abbas Gallyamov made the remarks to Erin Burnett on Monday, January 30, stating that “the Russian economy is deteriorating. The war is lost. There are more and more dead bodies returning to Russia, so Russians will be coming across more difficulties and they'll be trying to find explanation why this is happening, looking around to the political process.”

A Growing Divide Between Putin and Ordinary Russians

Gallyamov added that Russian citizens will likely reach the conclusion that the situation has arisen “because our country is governed by an old tyrant, an old dictator” in Vladimir Putin. He opined that "in one year when the political situation changes and there's a really hated unpopular president at the head of the country and the war is really unpopular, and they need to shed blood for this, at this moment, a coup becomes a real possibility."

However, the former Kremlin speechwriter doesn't think the president is prepared to relinquish power without a fight; he may decide to cancel the scheduled presidential election in 2024 if he doesn't feel it's likely to go his way. He noted that "Russians don't need him if he's not strong. He might really declare the martial law and cancel the elections."

Gallyamov first aired his beliefs about a potential military coup in a column for Mozhem Obyasnit, a Russian outlet posting opposing views about the war in Ukraine. A translation of the article provided by the Daily Beast quotes the analyst as saying that "Putin is more steadily transforming in people’s eyes from a great strategist to an ordinary, second-rate dictator."

He stated that a coup could come about quite easily as military leaders will probably fight for the side that's most likely to win.

"If complaints against authorities seem convincing to [a commander], then he will most likely decide that that [regime] will not stand against a wave of public anger. And if that’s the case, there’s no reason not to join,” Gallyamov claimed in his article.

The Daily Beast article also noted that there have been widespread reports of revolts and surrenders by Russian troops. Estimates suggest that thousands of Russian soldiers have ended their participation in the war by handing themselves in to Ukrainian authorities.

Gallyamov stopped working for Putin in 2010 and has been living in Israel in exile for the last five years, according to Insider.

The Broader Context

The analyst’s comments come as Russia approaches the one-year anniversary of its invasion of Ukraine. Despite the major economic, military, and human resources the Kremlin has dumped into the conflict, it has failed to secure the quick victory that Russian officials – and many Western leaders – believed was inevitable at the outset of the fighting.

While Russian troops successfully occupied large regions of Ukraine in the earlier days of the conflict, they were forced into a retreat from most of these last year.

An analysis piece on the war from the Wilson Center in January of this year quoted experts who believe that the ultimate result of the conflict for Russia will be extreme isolation from NATO and the European Union, though they also think there are several months of hard battles still ahead for Ukraine.

Ongoing Western Support for Ukraine

A major reason for Ukraine's resilience has been the massive military support it has received from the United States and other Western powers since the outset of the conflict.

On Tuesday, January 31, US President Joe Biden revealed that he was in discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy regarding outstanding requests for American aid from the war-torn country, reported CNBC.

According to administration officials, the next aid package is likely to cost $2.2 billion and may include the first shipment of longer-range rockets from the US, alongside other weapons and munitions.

This would follow the announcement of a "security assistance package" worth $3.8 billion at the beginning of the year, as reported by CNBC.

That included $2.9 billion for weapons to be handed over immediately, as well as $225 million for the longer-term development of Ukraine's military.