Putin's 'rogue' battlefield gas is worrying says Robert Fox
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing more condemnation by the day after his forces invaded Ukraine two weeks ago. In recent days, even those who wouldn’t usually take on the Kremlin chief have made their concerns heard. Last week, Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman and Oleg Deripaska broke ranks with the Kremlin and called for an end to Russia’s war in Ukraine. Mr Fridman said: “My parents are Ukrainian citizens and live in Lviv, my favourite city. But I have also spent much of my life as a citizen of Russia, building and growing businesses.
“I am deeply attached to Ukrainian and Russian peoples and see the current conflict as a tragedy for them both.
“This crisis will cost lives and damage two nations who have been brothers for hundreds of years. While a solution seems frighteningly far off, I can only join those whose fervent desire is for the bloodshed to end.”
Russia’s military has also struggled to make the progress many anticipated it would, according to reports.
The escalating violence and economic sanctions on Russia could even threaten Putin’s position, Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of the Silverado policy Accelerator think tank, warned.
Speaking to Spectator TV last week, he said there is a “small chance” of a “palace coup” but warned it remains a possibility.
Mr Alperovitch said: “I think the chance of it is not likely, but it is no longer zero.
“If you’d asked me two or three weeks ago what is the likelihood that Putin will be ousted in a palace coup I would have said zero. Today it is no longer that.
“I think it is precisely because the sanctions have been so severe, and the diplomatic isolation which cannot be underestimated.
“This is rapidly turning Russia into a North Korea-style pariah state.
“So, when you look at the elites, people who have enriched themselves over decades, that have bought properties, yachts – they are also realising those sanctions won’t get removed while Putin is in power.
“It is not out of the realms of possibility, small chance, but not zero, that someone will say ‘we’ve had enough, it’s time to step aside.'”
Sir Lawrence Freedman, professor of war studies at King’s College London, also commented on Putin’s efforts to undermine Volodymyr Zelensky’s leadership in Ukraine.
He said: “I think as long as he isn’t captured and killed, Zelensky will be in effect the president of Ukraine for some time to come now.”
The expert added that the Russian elite has major concerns about Putin’s aggression in Ukraine.
He added: “Putin’s position has been challenged by this, I think you need to know more of what is going on amongst the Russian elite to be sure, but the Russian population is broadly supportive because of what they are told on the Russian media.
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“But I think there will be worries amongst the Russian elite about the total isolation of their country and the economic sanctions are more severe than anyone expected.
“I think the problems that Putin faces over the long term are quite serious – it would be foolish to predict that he will go tomorrow or in weeks, months or whatever.
“I just think his position is going to be hard to recover from this staggering misjudgement that he has made, but we have to see.”
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