Putin ‘knows he is in trouble’ after a year-long conflict with Ukraine, says former FSB chief

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Vladimir Putin is ‘terribly scared’ as he marks the first anniversary of his invasion of Ukraine, says an ex-Russian secret services General.

The Russian dictator has badly misread the West’s resolve to stand up to him, and did not realise his army’s incompetence, according to the former chief of the Moscow division of the FSB.

‘Putin perfectly understands the mood of people who have lost everything because of him,’ said retired General Yevgeny Savostyanov. ‘He understands this anger can find a way out, so he keeps them away.

‘Putin is now terribly scared. He understands that he is in trouble,’ he said.

Putin’s problems were self-inflicted by going to war, he added. ‘He lived happily [yet] with his own hands, he took and ruined everything. Amazing story.’ Now, he is ‘in such a psychological state that he is clinging to any opportunity to win’.

Putin ‘knows he is in trouble’ after a year-long conflict with Ukraine, says former FSB chief

Vladimir Putin (pictured on Thursday) is ‘terribly scared’ as he marks the first anniversary of his invasion of Ukraine, according to a Russian secret services General

Yesterday, leaked documents suggested that the FSB mislead Putin about his chances of victory, telling the despot that his forces would seize Kyiv in just three days, and that Ukrainians would welcome Russian soldiers with open arms.

However, today marks one year since Putin launched the invasion. Russian forces are pinned down in the east, and Volodymyr Zelensky remains president.

And while Russia has managed so far to mitigate the impact of Western sanctions, Savostyanov said thanks to Putin and his invasion of Ukraine – the Russian people ‘will live very poorly no matter what – it’s already inevitable’.

He predicts a move by Putin and his henchmen to pass on the presidency to an ally less toxic in the West yet a figure who will preserve 70-year-old Putin’s circle, in the hope of preventing any kind of domestic revolution.

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He suspects this figure will be agriculture minister Dmitry Patrushev, 45, son of Putin’s hardline security advisor Nikolai Patrushev, 71, one of the architects of the disastrous war in Ukraine.

‘Patrushev’s son is named as a possible successor,’ said Savostyanov, 70, also a former deputy head of the Kremlin administration who had predicted Putin’s unexpected rise to power before the year 2000.

Dmitry Patrushev was seen as a ‘suitable figure’ who ‘will be provided with strong support’ to control Russia. And ‘in the eyes of the West, he is not too smeared’, having had no significant role in the war. Significantly, Putin praised Dmitry Patrushev in his state of the nation address this week.

Yet there was ‘no reason for optimism’ due to the ‘absurdity’ of the crisis facing Russia, caused by Putin, Savostyanov told Republic in savage criticism of Putin.

‘Russia is slipping down into the role of the leader of the third world, where we are needed only as long as we can give money,’ he said.

‘The time will come, and [in Russia] we will see empty shelves, goods shortages, people impoverishment, and technological backwardness in all areas.

Friday marks one year since Putin launched the invasion. Russian forces are pinned down in the east, and Volodymyr Zelensky remains president. Pictured: Ukrainian troops drive a tank close to the city of Bakhmut - the focus of heavy fighting in recent months - on February 19

Friday marks one year since Putin launched the invasion. Russian forces are pinned down in the east, and Volodymyr Zelensky remains president. Pictured: Ukrainian troops drive a tank close to the city of Bakhmut – the focus of heavy fighting in recent months – on February 19

‘One of Putin’s mistakes is that at the beginning of last summer, he did not catch the moment that the West stopped being afraid of him and would no longer retreat.

‘The first mistake is to lead a campaign against the West. The second is to believe that in Ukraine, they were waiting for us with flowers and hugs.

‘Corrupt propagandists and those who mastered big money allocated for creating the ‘fifth column’ in Ukraine – this is his mistake.

‘The third is that he, it turns out, did not know how his own army works. And this is the most amazing thing. The army was built all these years in the expectation that there would be no need to fight in the West,’ Savostyanov said.

‘The calculation was that Europe is in a hopeless energy situation.

‘It can spin as it wants, but it will not do without Russia, so it will again be forced to devour what will be put on the table.’

Putin calculated the West would swallow his hoped-for ‘quick victory’ in Ukraine, but he got that wrong just as he did not understand his army’s incompetence in a ‘tragedy of mistakes’. Russia has suffered several defeats in the last year, as well as a series of damaging blows against the Moskva cruiser and Kerch bridge.

‘When we see that Russia puts private military companies to the front, in addition to being staffed with an armed criminal element, it denies the very idea of its own statehood,’ the former FSB chief said. 

Savostyanov predicts that Russia now faces a bleak future. If Putin somehow succeeds in Ukraine he would enact a repressive crackdown.

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His angry inner circle ‘which has lost everything accumulated over 20 years’ would need to be eliminated.

‘If the [war] fails, the question will arise – either hard tightening the screws to keep order in the country – or chaos. Under the conditions of sanctions and restrictions, nothing good can be expected either.’

Despite Putin’s desperation, Savostyanov rated the chances of Putin using his nuclear arsenal as slight. ‘I can say no more than one per cent that Putin will decide to carry out the nuclear threat,’ he said.

‘The fundamental difference is that when I predicted who would replace [Boris] Yeltsin [is that the] procedure was obvious. The procedure for replacing Putin, frankly, is not obvious. But I understand one thing. In the foreground, there should be a person who will keep the situation under control.

‘There will be too many factors that will be able to increase destabilisation – from the [tanking] economy to separatist sentiments in the regions.’

Pictured: Retired General Yevgeny Savostyanov, who has said Putin is 'terribly scared' of his position amid his failing on-going invasion of Ukraine

Pictured: Retired General Yevgeny Savostyanov, who has said Putin is ‘terribly scared’ of his position amid his failing on-going invasion of Ukraine

This could lead to breakaway attempts by some regions, he said.

‘As the federal budget is reduced, subsidies will be reduced, respectively, in the regions…., and they will say: ‘Why do we need Moscow?’

He forecast an attempt to bring to power a figure who ‘will be able to keep the situation under control and, on the other, start reforms’.

This could be Dmitry Patrushev who, through his father, secretary of the Kremlin security council and a former FSB chief, might fulfil this role.

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