A Russian intelligence agent predicts a war between Putin and close allies, saying Putin is on the verge of a violent coup. Russia expert Gerhard Mangott explains how likely a putsch really is for the Kremlin boss.
Chaos, collapse, civil war: A whistleblower from the Russian secret service FSB predicts a war between Putin and his close allies, reports the US news magazine Newsweek. Due to the conflicts within the Russian system, the Russian secret agent believes in a violent overthrow of Putin.
Above all, Putin’s close confidants Prigozhin, head of the Wagner mercenary group, and Kadyrov, President of Chechnya, could pose a political threat to Putin, the secret agent continued. So will there be a coup in Russia?
Gerhard Mangott, Russia expert and professor of international relations at the University of Innsbruck, explains in an interview with FOCUS online why he currently considers a violent change of power to be unlikely.
FOCUS online: Mr. Mangott, a whistleblower for the Russian secret service FSB predicts a war between Putin and his previous allies, reports Newsweek. What is your assessment: is a coup in Russia imminent?
Gerhard Mangott: I read the article and found it very speculative. I do think that dissatisfaction in Russia has increased significantly. There is more and more talk in Russia about the possibility that the Russian side could lose this war and about the price one must be willing to pay for a victory in Ukraine.
And of course criticism of the Ministry of Defense as well as the General Staff itself has arisen. Although the mood towards Putin has changed significantly in Russia, I do not have the impression that this has reached the point where there is a violent conflict within Russia.
So you think a violent overthrow of Putin is unlikely?
Gerhard Mangott: At the moment I undoubtedly think this is unlikely. But if the string of Russian war defeats continues and Russia is pushed further and further back, Putin’s position is certainly in jeopardy. He knows that too, and that’s why he will do everything to prevent this – even to the point of using tactical nuclear weapons. But at the moment it cannot be said that Putin is about to fall.
And who is considered a political threat to Putin?
Gerhard Mangott: Prigozchin and Kadyrov are often seen as possible successors to Putin. I would rule that out though because both don’t have the potential to rise all the way to the top.
If Putin should be overthrown, then of course that depends very much on who will do it and only then can it be said who will be considered as his successor.
It is also conceivable that in such a case the Secretary of the Russian Security Council Patrushev would take over the leadership of the country. But it’s too early to speculate at this point, and it may never happen.
What could Putin do to prevent a coup?
Gerhard Mangott: I think it would be good for Putin if he worked a little more collectively – that is, involved several people in the war effort. In this way, he could bring potential opponents to his side. Still, it’s hard to tell from the outside whether Putin is going in that direction. In any case, he should and should go in this direction, so that it is not just a war by Putin, but a war of the entire leadership.
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Putin is currently particularly silent and even goes into hiding. Is his behavior an expression of weakness or a calculation?
Gerhard Mangott: One could also describe Putin as a withdrawn tsar who doesn’t want to take his share of the responsibility. I think it’s a calculation so as not to be associated with negative reports.
It was no coincidence that the withdrawal from the west bank of the Dnieper in the Kherson region was not announced by him, nor did he comment on it. He wants to give the impression that he has nothing to do with the things that are going wrong. However, the credibility of this message among the population is very low.
What impact would a power struggle within Russia have on the Ukraine war?
Gerhard Mangott: Some experts say that staying in power in Russia is ultimately more important to Putin than winning the war in Ukraine. It is also assumed that Putin would desist from the war in Ukraine in order to secure himself in Russia.
I don’t get much out of that because they are two closely related things: the progress of the war in Ukraine is related to the question of whether Putin can keep his power in Russia or whether he will lose it.
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