Putin at risk of coup as firing squad forms at Kremlin over Ukraine shambles

The unfolding disaster in Ukraine puts Russian leader Vladimir Putin in very real danger of being deposed in a coup by the security services, according to a Moscow source.

Dissident Vladimir Osechkin – who is on Russia’s most-wanted list for his work in exposing abuse in Russia’s prisons – says he has received letters from a source at the heart of the FSB security service, the modern equivalent of the KGB, revealing growing discontent within the agency.

One of the communications from Osechkin’s course predicts that the invasion of Ukraine will be a “total failure” and could lead in “real international conflict” in the coming months.

The FSB source said said they could not rule out the possibility of a “real global horror” beginning by the summer, saying they expected “some f***ing adviser to convince the leadership” to send an ultimatum to the West threatening a third world war if sanctions were not lifted.

FSB agents are Russia’s ”new nobility”, using their sky-high earnings to send their children to posh boarding schools in the UK

Being able to “go on holidays to their villas in Italy and take their kids to Disneyland Paris” is seen as a perk of the job.

But Putin’s catastrophic campaign in Ukraine, meant to take a few days but now dragging on for weeks, has allowed time for the Western powers to reach agreement and implement swingeing sanctions that take away all the Russian ruling class’s little luxuries.

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And now, Putin’s biographer Mark Galeotti says, a “circular firing squad” is beginning to form in the halls of the Kremlin.

“Senior FSB officers are ruthless, highly competent opportunists,” he writes in the Daily Mail.

“They do not support the war out of patriotic mania, or because they subscribe to Putin’s bare-chested cult of personality”,

The Russian leader is raising concerns, too, by blaming officials for the stalemate in Ukraine – and potentially picking off potential challengers.

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Colonel General Sergey Beseda, head of the foreign intelligence branch of the FSB, and his deputy Anatoly Bolyukh were arrested on fraud charges in March 13.

Shortly after these arrests, Roman Gavrilov, the deputy head of the National Guard, was accused of leaking classified information to the West and “squandering fuel”.

The chief of the general staff of Russia’s armed forces, Valery Gerasimov, has also not been seen in several days.

Most mysteriously of all, Russian defence minister Sergei Shoigu disappeared from public view over the past couple of weeks, with a vague announcement that he had “a lot to deal with”.

He has since been seen only once in an apparently doctored video that showed him reporting to Putin on progress in Ukraine.

Putin's habit of keeping secrets is beginning to work him.

Russian journalist Farida Rustamova said leading Kremlin officials had told her that they had been as shocked at the start of the war as everyone else, with one describing the situation as a “clusterf**k”

The most recent letter from Osechkin’s FSB source warns that the Russian leader is planning to unleash a “great terror” on the city of Kherson in Ukraine, kidnapping its citizens and taking them across the Russian border.

Were that to happen, it will only deepen Western sanctions – provoking forces within the Kremlin to take action against their leader.

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