As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drags on, speculation regarding a potential coup d’état to oust President Vladimir Putin has ramped up.
After so many long months of grueling warfare, many Russian citizens and conscripted troops have tired of Putin’s unpopular war.
More than 20,000 Russian soldiers have been verified as killed, thousands of military weapons and equipment have been destroyed or captured, and internationally imposed sanctions have crippled the country’s economy.
In the interview, Gallyamov noted 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 and they’ll be answering themselves: ‘Well, this is because our country is governed by an old tyrant, an old dictator.’”
For these reasons, the former speechwriter predicted 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.” For many, the end of the authoritarian leader’s reign in Russia would be welcomed. However, the probability of such a coup, and of a related end to Russia’s invasion, is not all that high.
The Main Rumors
When Jack Teixiera, the former member of the U.S. Air National Guard, was arrested in March after being accused of leaking classified Pentagon documents, coup rumors once again swirled. In addition to listing locations of Ukrainian troops and casualty numbers in the ongoing war, the leaked papers alleged that a plan to oust the Russian president was underway.
The New York Times reported that an effort to sabotage Putin was described in the leaked documents.
According to an unidentifiable Russian source reportedly with access to Kremlin officials, there was a secretive plan to forcibly remove Putin from power in early March while the president underwent a scheduled round of chemotherapy. Obviously, it is in Ukraine’s best interest to fuel rumors of Kremlin instability, which is why these narratives should be taken less than seriously.
A secondary coup rumor circulated before the leaked Pentagon papers. The leader of Russia’s paramilitary Wagner Group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, has criticized Russian troops on social media, claiming that his own soldiers were responsible for some of the gains made in the town of Soledar, in the Donetsk region, earlier this year.
Prigozhin took to Telegram to channel his anger, purporting that, “They are constantly trying to steal victory from the Wagner PMC [private military company] and talk about the presence of the unknown, only to belittle their merits.”
While many would be pleased with Putin’s removal from power in Russia, there is no guarantee that the president’s successor would be any less brutal.
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Maya Carlin, a Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, is an analyst with the Center for Security Policy and a former Anna Sobol Levy Fellow at IDC Herzliya in Israel. She has by-lines in many publications, including The National Interest, Jerusalem Post, and Times of Israel. You can follow her on Twitter: @MayaCarlin.