Vladimir Putin is said to be closing his inner circle fearing “consequences” from “old friends” over his invasion of Ukraine, according to an analyst.
Former advisor to Ukraine’s Parliament Mykola Volkivskyi told Daily Express US that while the rumours surrounding Putin’s declining health were likely overblown, the dictator was certainly becoming paranoid.
He said: “Rumours about Putin’s ‘death’ should be handled with great restraint…there is no real confirmation of this information.”
Mr Volkivskyi added: “It is more difficult to say what is happening with ‘old friends’ of the Russian President.”
In recent weeks, Russian social media has become inundated with reports of Putin’s health woes or even death.
While these rumours are likely unsubstantiated, Putin is becoming wary of his closest allies in Russia who have been negatively affected by his war in Ukraine, according to Mr Volkivskyi.
The analyst said: “Speaking about his entourage, it is clear that most of them understand how big a mistake he made by launching a full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022.
“And so, fearing the possible consequences from his ‘old friends’, Putin is limiting his circle of contacts and isolating himself. The events of this summer have shown that Putin is no longer untouchable.”
Over the summer, Wagner mercenaries led by the now-deceased Yevgeny Prigozhin attempted a coup which saw fighters march on Moscow.
The shocking development likely rattled the Russian leader – Prigozhin was considered a staunch Putin-ally before turning on the Russian President.
Despite the potential for Putin’s most powerful allies to turn on him, he still has the support of many ordinary Russians, according to Mr Volkivskyi.
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He says that many who support the war in Ukraine value a “strong leader” and share Putin’s dream of remaking a version of the Soviet Union.
However, as the war continues well into its second year, it’s unclear how long Putin’s supporters will hang on as Western sanctions bite at Russia’s economy.
Mr Volkivskyi added: “Putin will do everything to prolong the war – domestic political turbulence in Russia will increase.
“It is important that Putin is punished fairly for what he has done in Ukraine and is convicted by an international tribunal. It is only a matter of time.”
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