As Russia’s military continues to sustain significant losses and its economy falls into collapse, reports have emerged that a cadre of elites in that country are plotting to depose President Vladimir Putin in an attempt to revive financial ties with the West, as the New York Post reports.
A Facebook post from the Chief Directorate of Intelligence for the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine on Sunday stated bluntly, “Poisoning, sudden illness, accident – Russia’s elite is considering removing Putin.”
According to the ministry, there is a growing movement afoot among a number of “influential people” who are interested in taking Putin out of power “as soon as possible” and re-engaging economically with the West in the wake of the devastating fallout from sanctions imposed over the conflict in Ukraine.
It is thought that current director of Russia’s Federal Security Service, Alexander Bortnikov, is the top contender to replace Putin, as the two men have reportedly suffered a rift in recent days due to what the president believed were Bortnikov’s “fatal miscalculations” that have caused the invasion of Ukraine to stall.
The push to revive economic dealings with Western nations cited as the driving force behind Putin’s potential removal comes as the Russian president himself has had to acknowledge the “unprecedented pressure” and the serious toll their financial sanctions are having on his country.
Putin declared that the economic punishments levied by the West “are aimed at worsening the lives of millions of people,” but also claimed that they would have come regardless of whether he had decided to invade Ukraine.
Rumors of an internal plot to oust Putin comes on the heels of comments from U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who made headlines by suggesting that with regard to the crisis in Ukraine, “[t]he only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out. You would be doing your country – and the world – a great service.”
“Unless you want to live in darkness for the rest of your life, be isolated from the rest of the world in abject poverty, and live in darkness, you need to step up to the plate,” Graham explained, according to CBS News.
The White House, for its part, criticized Graham for his take and emphasized that it was “not the position of the United States government,” but whether those in Russia with the ability and the will to conduct the sort of operation rumored to be in the works are indeed poised to act, only time will tell.