Ukraine intelligence is claiming that Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt shortly after Russia invaded. Although NATO intelligence agencies are not verifying the claim, it would not be the first time someone has tried to kill the Russian president. There are reports of internal discord within the Russian government over the invasion, besides having to worry about being outright killed Putin must worry about a coup as well.
A senior Russian diplomat resigned this week over the war. Public dissent in Russia against Putin is rare because those who have previously been outspoken have found themselves in jail or dead. The fact that it is happening within the diplomatic corps indicates there must be a great deal of dissatisfaction within the government itself. If the war in Ukraine deteriorates further the discord will only grow, making assassination or a coup more likely.
Although Putin has so far been unscathed, people close to him have not been so lucky. At least 7 Russian oligarchs have died recently in mysterious circumstances. It is difficult to know what is going on, but clearly powerful people are moving against each other. It is unclear if Putin is cleaning house, or if foreign actors are attempting to isolate him by killing off his inner circle.
Regardless of whether Putin can avoid either being killed or being ousted in a coup, his fortunes will rise or fall with whatever happens in the war in Ukraine. The Western media has been reporting relentlessly that Russia is losing the war, but this may not be the case.
Indeed, out of Davos this week there were calls for a ceasefire that would involve Ukraine ceding territory to Putin. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has previously flat out rejected any peace deal that would involve giving away land.
If Putin were able to secure the Donbas region, as well as a land bridge to Crimea, he would be able to withdraw his troops from the rest of Ukraine and declare victory. A withdrawal without such a concession would be considered an ignominious defeat. Putin’s regime would not survive a straight retreat. This makes the Russian president a dangerous man who must be willing to do anything to win. The world waits to see what will happen next.