Former Kremlin aide says Putin’s ouster could be right around the corner

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ATTA KENARE/TBEN via Getty Images

After a string of battlefield losses in Ukraine, pressure is mounting in Russia to stop Vladimir Putin.

And according to Abbas Gallyamov, Putin’s former speechwriter, he may not be playing his role for much longer.

“Putin’s image has been tarnished,” Gallyamov told CNN on Thursday. “The next thing that is going to happen in Russian politics in the coming months, maybe up to six months, is that the elites will look for a successor.”

Gallyamov is not alone in reading between the lines. A group of officials in St. Petersburg and Moscow has begun calling for Putin’s impeachment. Some officials have accused Putin of high treason for invading Ukraine. Since Putin has demanded his resignation, a court in Russia has ordered the dissolution of a city council seeking to fire Putin.

Putin himself has stepped back from some of his duties in recent days after crushing defeats in southern and northeast Ukraine, where Ukrainian forces launched multiple counter-offensive dealing with Russian troops. Putin canceled a meeting with military and defense industry representatives to take the news of the losses, an adviser said. Putin acknowledged during a meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Thursday that China has “concerns” about Russia’s war in Ukraine, a subtle nod to Russia’s main geopolitical partner who has doubts about the course of the war.

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Putin’s options for making a comeback on the battlefield remain slim. On Thursday, Ukrainians liberated Novovorontsovska, Kochubeivska, Vysokopolska and Velykooleksandrivska communities in the Beryslav district, said Dmytro Slivchenko, the head of Beryslav’s district council. Ukrainians have recaptured about 8,000 square kilometers in the counteroffensive in recent days, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. And European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said during a visit to Kiev on Thursday that the European Union will continue to support Ukraine in the coming days.

“It is imperative and necessary to support Ukraine with the military equipment they need to defend themselves. And they’ve proven they can do it, if they’re properly equipped,” she said.

Putin’s forces, many of which have withdrawn in the face of the attack on Ukraine, have been dwindling for some time and sabotaging their own equipment. Putin has become so desperate that he has tried to create a new force made up of “recruited” prisoners. But if Putin were to rely on a wider mobilization or draft at this stage of the conflict, the public would revolt, Gallyamov predicted.

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“If Putin starts making this national draft, he is really in danger of rioting,” Galyamov said. “Russians are not prepared to go to war. They are not ready to go and sacrifice their lives, especially when the Ukrainians are advancing and the Russians are withdrawing.”

“It’s not clear if his loyal … National Guard will really suppress those riots as before, because now, those National Guard … they certainly aren’t as loyal anymore,” Gallyamov said.

A Russian politician, the head of the Russian Communist Party, said this week that a mobilization will be needed in the coming days to address the urgent needs of the conflict.

“The maximum mobilization of troops and resources is now required,” said Gennady Zyuganov, acknowledging that Putin’s “special” military operation — previously labeled a limited operation — is indeed a war.

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“The special military operation … in Ukraine has turned into a full-fledged war,” Zyuganov said. “A war and a special operation differ at their core… A war cannot be ended even if you want to: you take it to the end, victory or defeat.”

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However, the Kremlin does not yet appear to be taking any steps towards mobilization. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said early this week that there are no ongoing discussions about a full or partial mobilization.

For now, Russian forces are trying to continue fighting in Ukraine and have continued rocket attacks on civilian infrastructure in recent hours, including in Kryvyi Rih, Nikopol, Hulyaipole and Myrne.

“The enemy continues to focus its efforts on trying to fully occupy the Donetsk Oblast, capture the conquered territories and disrupt the active actions of our troops in certain areas,” the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said on Thursday.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of Donetsk’s regional military administration, said Russian missiles in the Donetsk region killed 2 people and injured 13 civilians on Wednesday.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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