Russian elites, especially Kremlin insiders, are reportedly plotting to remove Russian president Vladimir Putin from power by "poisoning" him, according to Ukrainian intelligence. According to reports, the assassination plot is in a bid to instill a successor to Putin and restore trade ties with the west.
According to Ukraine's Ministry of Defense's Chief Directorate of Intelligence, a "group of influential" members of the "Russian elite" have devised a plot to depose the president. According to the intelligence brief, the impact of the war and accompanying sanctions on the Russian economy has disturbed key insiders and they now want a solution to the crisis so that Russia's economy stabilizes.
According to Ukrainian intelligence, "Russian elites" are plotting to poison Putin and replace him with a person of their choice so that economic ties with the West can be resumed. According to sources, FSB chief Oleksandr Bortnikov has been chosen to succeed Putin as head of the agency that would succeed the feared KGB.
"It is known that Bortnikov and some other influential representatives of the Russian elite are considering various options to remove Putin from power," the Chief Directorate of Intelligence said.
"In particular, poisoning, sudden disease, or any other 'coincidence' is not excluded."
Bortnikov has lost favor with Putin as a result of military setbacks in the first three weeks of the Ukraine conflict, during which he also fired eight generals. Given how the two men have worked their way up through Russian society together, the claim that Bortnikov is the guy to replace Putin may come as a surprise.
One Ukrainian intelligence source said recently: "It is noteworthy that Bortnikov has recently been disgraced by the Russian dictator. The official reason for the disgrace of the FSB leader â fatal miscalculations in the war against Ukraine."
"Bortnikov and his department were responsible for analyzing the mood of Ukraine and the ability of the Ukrainian army." But they failed.
Putin Losing Favor Among Close Ones
The suspected plot may have been prompted by the losses suffered by Chechen forces in norther Ukraine, according to the agency. After many of their members were slain, Ukraine said last weekend that a portion of the famed Chechen fighting squadron had been sent back to Russia.
Putin presently is furious at his generals, including Bortnokov. He has fired eight generals in an attempt to deflect attention away from himself for the horrific battle that has claimed the lives of nearly 15,000 of his men in just 25 days.
The increasingly paranoid leader has even made publicly ranted about "traitors" and "scum" whom he suspects of betraying Moscow by leaking information. According to Ukrainian intelligence, the elite plotters chose Bortnikov because they believe he can lead the restoration of commercial relations with the West.
They are increasingly concerned that Russia would be designated as a pariah state, ostracized by the West, and that their homes, bank accounts, and yachts will be seized, as well as their ability to travel and conduct business.
Bortnikov is believed to have a network of insiders working and living in Ukraine, where he previously controlled a network of operatives.
"There is a significant suspicion that a small number of people might actually now try to get rid of the Russian President but whether they will succeed remains to be seen. Certainly they are being given an awful lot of encouragement by various influential figures in the west and the feeling amongst most people is that enough is enough," the Western source told the Daily Mirror.
Bortnikov, the Urals-born tough career spy, on the other hand, has long been one of Putin's closest associates.