Russian President Vladimir Putin might be killed in a coup by his own security services as his handling of the Ukraine invasion continues to spiral downwards, yet another 'UK expert' on Russian affairs has said.
Dr Robert Thornton, a professor in conflict and security studies at King's College London, said that many with Russia's FSB security might be planning to assassinate Putin and pin the blame on his already ailing health, calling it a heart attack.
Thornton believes that several senior officials think Putin has gone "soft" on Ukraine after Russian troops were pulled back from Kyiv.
Speaking to The Sun, the professor said that Russia's military intelligence unit, the GRU, could be assigned the task soon if more and more troops continue to 'lose ground' in Eastern Ukraine.
"If you want to conduct a palace coup, you want to keep it very secret and very quiet. You'd get the GRU to do it and they've been given more and more power over the last few weeks," Thornton said.
He added further that Putin could be approached by an ultimatum by a group of senior officials to either leave the office or be killed.
If this happens and the Russian leader is removed than it is likely that his replacement would be an even more 'hardline leader.' Bearing in mind the current chaos in the country, Thornton strongly suspects it might be General Valery Gerasimov, the head of the armed forces, or Alexander Bortnikov, the director of FSB since 2008.
The assassination plan might even be successful as many within the military have begun questioning the invasion. "There is bound to be morale issues in the army and leadership issues and people asking why we are doing this," the professor said.
As per estimation of the Ukrainian leaders, Russia has lost more than 30,000 troops, at least 650 tanks and about 3,000 other armored vehicles and heavy equipment ever since the invasion began in February. The senior officials are growing furious as even with 100 days into war, no major military objective has been achieved, as per The Mirror.
Thornton believes that heart attack might be the simplest and easiest way for the senior officials to take reins of the war in their hands and 'save their country' from the turmoil. The Russian leader's falling health and the cancer rumors surrounding it will provide them a good cover-up.
"You'd get someone to say: 'Poor Mr Putin had a heart attack, from all the strain of his special military operation and we've put so-in-so in charge'," the professor explained.
This is not the first time the Russian officials are planning to become puppeteers by controlling the head of state. It had happened with Leonid Brezhnev, a former Soviet leader, who suffered a clinical death in 1976 but was revived and made to rule for six more years in a virtual daze.
"He no longer could understand what was going around him," Historian Roy Medvedev told LA Times. He added further that Brezhev's so-called followers just needed him to make a few public appearances as a formal head of state and so they carried on with their plan until the Soviet leader finally died in 1982.