Considering the Wagner Group Coup Plot, Could Putin Get Assassinated? – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a bold prediction earlier this year: that the Russian people would rise up to assassinate their bellicose president, Vladimir Putin.
“There will definitely be a moment when the fragility of Putin’s regime will be felt inside their state,” Zelensky said. “The predators will eat a predator…They will find a reason to kill a killer.”
Zelensky may be engaged in wishful thinking, given that Putin is conducting an all-out war against Zelensky’s Ukraine, but the prediction raises a few captivating questions. One, would someone assassinate Putin? And two, what would happen if Putin were assassinated?
Would someone assassinate him?
Putin is the global community’s public enemy number one, drawing the ire from internal and external sources. Putin’s removal has become something of a “want” among segments of the Russian population and amongst westerners alike. But to assassinate a head of state – especially one of a country as significant as Russia – would be bold, indeed.
Still, the possibility exists.
Zelensky predicted that Russians would assassinate Putin; that the assassination would be conducted internally – although Zelensky was not specific about who exactly would commit the killing. Zelensky is not alone in his musings.
“Is there a Brutus in Russia?” Senator Lindsey Graham asked. “Is there a more successful Colonel Stauffenberg in the Russian military? The only way this ends is for somebody in Russia to take this guy out.”
Anti-Putin protests have been scattered throughout Russia since the Russo-Ukraine War began, suggesting an erosion to Putin’s popularity – which would make sense given the Russian casualties accruing in what has been described as the most vicious fighting in Europe since World War II. While an internal assassination of Putin doesn’t seem especially likely, it’s more likely the less popular Putin is, and the more resources he invests into a war that has gone so poorly for Russia.
But of course, an assassination of Russia could come from an external source. Actually, Russia is claiming that Ukraine just attempted to assassinate Putin in a brazen drone attack on the Kremlin building.
“Last night, the Kyiv regime attempted to carry out a strike on the Kremlin residence of the President of the Russian Federation with unmanned aerial vehicles…as a planned terrorist act and an assassination attempt on the president,” a Russian statement said.
Ukraine has neither confirmed nor denied the claims.
What would happen if Putin were assassinated?
Many have proposed that killing Putin could solve a lot of the world’s problems, particularly the Russo-Ukraine War, instantly.
“You cut off the head of the snake and you kill the snake,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said. “Right now, the snake is Vladimir Putin.”
But it’s not that simple.
While Putin has been singularly blamed for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and while Russia is indeed the primary belligerent, Putin is acting predictably and in accordance with a wider Russian ethos. The point being, killing Putin may not be the panacea that westerners like to imagine.
“That a different Russian leader might seek an accord to withdraw troops from Ukraine” is a deep fallacy, wrote journalist Stephen Kinzer. “no one who hopes to secure power in Moscow, however, could ever accept Ukraine’s entry into NATO or the presence of hostile troops on Ukrainian soil. Any Russian president who did so would be seen as exposing his country to mortal danger and quickly deposed. Removing Putin would not alter Russia’s determination never to tolerate an enemy army on another of its borders.”
And that’s the deflating truth for those hoping for a quick, overnight, one-bullet solution to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. Killing Putin might not mean that much at all.
Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison listens to Dokken.