Putin’s downfall: Russian tyrant to be ousted as elites fight over ‘shrinking’ economy

Putin's plot to 'stall' Ukraine peace talks reveals Elisabeth Braw

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The Russian President invaded Ukraine last month on the false premise that his country’s security was threatened by its former Soviet neighbour. Putin’s troops have conducted a ruthless assault on Ukraine, destroying homes, infrastructure and targeting Ukrainian civilians. The UN estimates at least 816 civilians have been killed in Ukraine since the war began last month.

Some 3.2 million refugees have also fled the country, while 6.5 million have been displaced internally.

Countries around the world have responded to Russia’s unprovoked military aggression, with crippling sanctions designed to suffocate its economy.

The UK alone has designated more than 1,000 individuals and entities to be faced with sanctions, has slapped a ban on exports to Russia and has placed import tariffs on hundreds of products.

In its latest round of sanctions last week, the UK targeted key Putin allies and Kremlin figures such as Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, all of whom are subject to travel bans and will have their UK assets frozen.

As Russia’s economy continues to “shrink” under the weight of sanctions, a Russia expert has explained how Putin could be toppled in such a climate.

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Professor Nikolai Petrov, a senior research fellow on the Russia and Eurasia Programme at Chatham House, spoke to Express.co.uk.

The academic, who has researched Kremlin decision-making, claimed that tensions will rise among Russian business elites as the economy starts to grind to a halt, which will put pressure on Putin and may spark his exit as Russian President.

He said: “The pie is shrinking in a very essential way.

“And pieces of this pie, which are given to all major elite clans, should become smaller as well.

“They will see that their neighbour is getting more or is losing less than themselves.

“The tension is between these major elite groups and this is the fight for survival.

“This is not just political ideas, but in order to survive, they need to keep their piece of pie as big as possible.”

Professor Petrov said that business figures such as media elites and those supplying the military are among those who will feel threatened.

He said: “They will fight against each other and it will destabilise the system.

“It will not be an uprising against Putin or at least it will not start as such.

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“But it will be their fight, leading to the further weakening of the regime.

“And finally, it can lead to Putin’s disappearance as the supreme arbiter who is providing this balance between all major elite groups.”

In the UK’s latest raft of sanctions last week, a further 370 Russian individuals, including at least 50 oligarchs and their families were targeted.

Those newly designated by the Government have a combined net worth of at least £100billion.

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The latest sanctions came after the Economic Crime Bill was passed, meaning it will now be easier to sanction Russian oligarchs.

In a statement, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are going further and faster than ever in hitting those closest to Putin.

“From major oligarchs, to his prime minister, and the propagandists who peddle his lies and disinformation.

“We are holding them to account for their complicity in Russia’s crimes in Ukraine.”

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