Are 'assassination' rumors a message to Putin that his Kremlin days are numbered?
International speculation on the fate of Vladimir Putin increasingly centers on when and how the Russian president will fall from power.
International speculation on the fate of Vladimir Putin increasingly centers on when and how the Russian president will fall from power, with some analysts suggesting that the "doomsday scenarios" may actually be a message to Putin that his days are numbered.
Predictions from the former head of Britain's MI6 spy agency dovetail with comments from Ukrainian intelligence, showing that many minds are contemplating Putin's potential demise.
Putin will be gone from the Kremlin by the end of the year, according to Sir Richard Dearlove, who ran MI6 from 1994-2004, in the aftermath of the Soviet Union's disintegration.
"I'm really going to stick my neck out," Dearlove said. "I think he'll be gone by 2023. But probably into the sanatorium, from which he will not emerge as the leader of Russia."
The scenario would remove Putin from office without the trauma of a coup, Dearlove said last week on his podcast, "One Decision."
Putin in March survived worse than a coup attempt, according to a top Ukrainian military official.
"There was an attempt to assassinate Putin," according to Major General Kyrylo Budanov, who runs the Intelligence Directorate of Ukraine's Ministry of Defense. "He was even attacked, it is said, by representatives of the Caucasus, not so long ago."
The information was not made public at the time, Budanov told the Ukrainska Pravda news outlet. In what may have been a nod to occasional suggestions that Putin uses a body double, Budanov affirmed that the attack was an "absolutely unsuccessful attempt, but it really happened," some two months ago.
"I repeat, this attempt was unsuccessful," Budanov said. "There was no publicity about this event, but it took place."
Dearlove and Budanov echoed other reports that Putin is seriously ill.
Stories of attempts on Putin's life have not been verified, and could simply be rumor, one U.S. intelligence official told Just the News.
"The man is very well protected, and it would be difficult for any assassin to reach him," said the official, who is an active duty officer and is not authorized to speak to the media. "The doomsday scenarios will reach him, though, and so will the message. Which is, he won't be in power much longer."
The Kremlin, too, has considered the assassination theme as it applies to other potential victims.
Putin in April announced that his security service had thwarted a plot to kill Russian state TV journalist Vladimir Solovyov, who supports Putin's actions in Ukraine.
The Federal Security Service itself — the successor agency to the Soviet Union's KGB — foiled the assassination, Putin said.
"This morning, organs of the FSB halted the activities of a terrorist group that was planning an attack and a murder of a prominent Russian TV journalist," Putin said last month, blaming "high-ranking diplomatic officials in Europe and the United States" for ordering the hit.
"We know the names of the sponsors from Western intelligence agencies," he claimed, "first of all — of course — from the United States' CIA, which are working with Ukraine's security services."
A veteran Russian diplomat, meanwhile, resigned Monday over his country's invasion of Ukraine, accusing Moscow of "warmongering, lies and hatred."
The diplomat, Boris Bondarev, wrote that "never have I been so ashamed of my country as on Feb. 24 of this year," referring to when Putin invaded Ukraine.
Russia's three-months long invasion has resulted in widespread devastation, and has prompted more than 6.5 million people to flee Ukraine. The invasion has brought unprecedented sanctions from the West against Russia.