Toppling Putin could spell disaster for the West if he’s taken out like a mafia don over Ukraine war, say ex-UK general | The Sun
VLADIMIR Putin rules Russia as a mafia don -but like any failing gangster he might not last long, a top ex-UK general said.
General Sir Richard Shirreff – the former deputy commander of Nato forces in Europe – said Putin's cronies could quickly turn on him over Ukraine.
But even if Putin is removed over his failing war, the criminal mob in the Kremlin could replace him with someone even worse.
Putin's more than 20-year career at the top of Russian politics now seems tied to his success or failure in Ukraine.
Vlad has ruled with an iron fist and surrounded himself with all manner of supposedly loyal cronies.
And while they all enjoy the power and the wealth that comes with sitting at the top of a mafia state, how long will that last?
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Sir Richard explained that once it looks like Putin's position is starting to look weak and he's losing control – he could be removed.
Vlad has staked so much on the war in Ukraine.
And now Putin has found Russia transformed into a pariah state and up to 200,000 of his troops dead in Ukraine.
"When you've got a mafioso gang running the show – if the head of the gang demonstrates he is not up to it and is weak then there is a possibility he could be removed," Sir Richard told The Sun Online.
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"But I don't think we should assume that if he is removed or if he loses power he will be replaced by anyone who is any easier to deal with.
"We have you assume whoever is leading Russia is a hardline ultra-nationalist determined to sweep Ukraine, roll it up into a second Russian Empire and destroy it, and to continue the war against the West."
Putin is believed by some to be one of the richest men in the world – for a fortune estimated at up to £160 billion.
Vlad is thought to have used a network of corruption to amass his incredible wealth.
He's surrounded himself with a network of his pals who have also all got rich.
And just like a mob boss – Vlad is known to kill or silence his critics and enemies in a modern-day version of Murder Inc.
Corruption and embezzlement are rife throughout the Russian state, with even some parts of the military being picked clean.
And the extraordinary strip-mining of every arm of state has in part led to Vlad's disastrous war, with soldiers running out of ammo, vehicles running out of fuel, and out-of-date rancid rations.
Sir Richard however said it is unlikely the Russian people would be involved in any uprising unless there was a completely "catastrophic" defeat of Russia in Ukraine.
"The line that Ukraine is a Nazi state has been accepted, and people are not prepared to risk their lives and stick their heads above the parapet," he told The Sun Online.
"But a completely catastrophic defeat of the Russian army, that might bring the message home.
"And again, that is not impossible – but it is only possible if the West gives Ukraine what it needs in a concentrated way."
General Sir Richard Barrons, former commander the UK's joint forces, also said Putin's days are numbered.
"His career is over if he is seen to lose this war – and he is losing this war," he told The Sun Online.
"And the way he is trying to not be seen to lose the war is simply to keep it going."
Sir Richard explained that Russia's long-term objective is still to "remove the regime" in Kyiv – but that is "completely beyond them right now".
Putin is gambling on the fact that both Ukraine and the West will lose the will to fight.
He will try to drag out the meat grinder-style conflict – funnelling in seemingly endless amounts of manpower and Russian lives.
Colonel Hamish de Bretton-Gordon agreed that Putin is trying to drag out the war to outlast the West.
And he said that there is "no shortage" of people circling the Kremlin who would like to see the end of Vlad.
But once again, he believes any effort to remove Putin will have to come from the elite.
"The Russian people still think Putin is a winner – the only people who are going to take him out are the powerful people around him," he told The Sun Online.
"Outside Moscow and Saint Petersburg, it's pretty much a peasant economy with people living off the land.
"It's only in Moscow you see blacked-out Rolls Royces being driven around by people who have got there through corruption and crime.
"It is a gangster state."
Colonel de Bretton-Gordon added he thinks the oligarchs and people with big money invested will be key to getting rid of Vlad.
He explained: "The billionaires who rely on the Russian state are pretty hacked off at the moment.
"Singularly they are not a threat – but the oligarchs and others building up a head of steam could be the thing that tips it over."
And if Ukraine does manage to reset the borders to as they were before Putin annexed Crimea – then that could be the end for Vlad.
Russia's invasion was claimed by Putin to simply be a "special military operation" which would only last two weeks.
Now tens of thousands of Russians are lying dead in the fields across Ukraine.
And millions of Ukrainian civilians have endured untold misery as the cities have been devastated and their homes stolen.
Putin foolishly believed his forces would be welcomed into Ukraine as liberators.
But instead, the initial attack ended in a disaster that saw his forces devastated and thrown back to Russia.
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Kyiv also continues to call for Western arms which they believe they need to defeat the Russians.
The world is waiting to see what Ukraine will achieve in their upcoming counter-offensive – with hopes it could provide key gains across the frontline.
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