Russian President Vladimir Putin has led his nation into war with Ukraine. Now some of his own officials have turned against him despite the threat of severe punishment.
Five Russian officials who called for Putin's arrest for treason have been apprehended by police, Fox News reported. The deputies had urged their government to hold Putin accountable for the sanctions, military deaths, and other consequences of the war.
In all, seven deputies had signed on the appeal to the Duma, Russia's central governing body, citing the fallout from the invasion of Ukraine. They blamed Putin for the Russian military casualties, humanitarian impact, as well economic fallout from sanctions imposed after the invasion.
They slammed Putin for pushing previously neutral countries like Sweden and Finland into joining NATO. Drafting such an appeal prompted police to call for these officials to report to them for "discrediting the army."
Two of the seven were able to leave police custody without incident, while the rest were arrested. Rebekah Koffler, author of "Putin's Playbook" who had formerly served as a DIA intelligence officer, told Fox News Digital that their willingness to speak out was "significant."
"The fact that several municipal deputies in St. Petersburg, Putin's hometown, came forward accusing [him] of treason and calling for his removal is highly significant," Koffler said. "They know the punishment will be severe."
"They can easily face a death sentence based on Russian federal law," Koffler pointed out. "The significance of this act of defiance and dissent by a handful of Russian officials cannot be possibly overstated."
Koffler sees this as a move to "build momentum among the Russian people to oust Putin." However, Putin has effectively surrounded himself with top-ranking loyalist officials making a "coup in Russia unlikely."
There's no doubt that Putin has forced Russia into a tough spot. The world has united behind Ukraine in the conflict, and Putin failed to calculate the impact that would have on his military offensive -- and on his own people.