The head of Ukraine’s intelligence, General Kyrylo Budanov, has said that President Vladimir Putin is unlikely to survive the war, and that currently there are “active discussions happening in Russia about who’d be there to replace him.”
In an interview with The War Zone on Saturday, Oct. 29, Budanov also said that the Russian-occupied eastern region of Kherson could be retaken by the end of next month.
An estimated 40,000 Russian troops are regrouping around Kherson, the General confirmed, saying that “a large share of them are from airborne troops of the Russian Federation, Russian special operation forces, and the naval infantry – so the most capable units that Russia has.”
He added, “Those units form the backbone of the grouping and it’s being strengthened by mobilized personnel as well.”
Budanov said a counteroffensive to recapture Crimea, a Ukrainian territory which was invaded and annexed by Russia in 2014, could also come next year, with Ukrainian forces continuing to retake lands stolen by Putin.
Recapturing territories that belong to Ukraine and pushing Russian troops back to Ukraine’s 1991 borders would create “a good opportunity to end the war,” he added, before stating that Putin would not remain in power.
“It’s unlikely that he [Putin] survives it,” he said. “And currently there’s active discussions happening in Russia about who’d be there to replace him.”
The General’s comments come amid a rise in criticism towards President Putin from his own officials and supporters.
Last week, U.S. intelligence reports revealed that Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, Russia’s brutal private military company, confronted Putin face-to-face over numerous failings in Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine.
Prigozhin also criticized Russian Minister of Defense Sergei Shoigu.
According to an Oct. 24 report from the Institute for the Study of War, Prigozhin could “pose a threat to Putin’s rule” as he “ continues to accrue power and is setting up a military structure parallel to the Russian Armed Forces.”
Earlier this month, former British MI6 chief Sir Alex Younger stated his belief that Putin is “in danger of being outflanked by the very political constituency he created.”
Speaking on BBC Newsnight, Younger said Putin could be overthrown by “the chauvinistic, nationalistic, arguably fascistic, right-wing that was his support base and that is now castigating him for not going far and hard enough.”
However, Younger warned that Putin could be replaced by an even more extreme leader.
“We need to be very careful what we wish for here,” he said. “I personally think in due course that this is what will happen. He will be replaced, but will be replaced by critics from the right.”
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