Putin warned ‘predator will devour predator’ over Kremlin coup fears

Russia: Vladimir Putin addresses rally in Moscow

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Vladimir Putin’s protracted war in Ukraine could backfire if his Armed Forces fail to achieve any material success, leading to a Kremlin coup where “the predators will devour the predator”, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said. Speaking as part of a new Ukrainian documentary entitled Year, the wartime leader said that it was only a matter of time before the “fragility of Putin’s regime will be felt inside the [Russian] state”.

After a week of multiple public outings by Russian President Vladimir Putin to mark the anniversary of the invasion, moves which have become increasingly rare post-pandemic and as the war has waged on, Mr Zelensky has issued a warning to his counterpart.

According to a report by The Times, Mr Zelensky said: “There will definitely be a moment when the fragility of Putin’s regime will be felt inside the [Russian] state.

“And then the predators will devour a predator. They will find a reason to kill a killer.”

His comments were made as part of a new Ukrainian documentary detailing the past year of conflict, in what many view as the largest military confrontation since World War II.

There has been significant infighting between Russia’s top war generals and commanders stationed in Ukraine for several months now.

Since the summer of Russian offensives abated, and Putin’s Army began suffering a series of major setbacks in the face of swift Ukrainian counter offensives, tensions between the Kremlin and their soldiers has been troublesome.

Wagner Group chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, who is believed to have a direct line to Putin, has been continually critical of both Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, and Sergei Surovikin, the former head of the Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine.

The Russian military blogger community has also been critical of the situation in Ukraine, in part undermining the disinformation campaign launched by the Kremlin masking the military difficulties.

Nonetheless, beneath the criticisms and the infighting, there has lain one common belief: Vladimir Putin must remain the figurehead of Russia.

While Mr Zelensky’s threats that Putin will be “devoured” perhaps speak more to his anti-Russian stance than to fact, other more neutral commentators have suggested that the Kremlin leader could be in trouble.

Dr Albert Bininachvili, an expert on Central Asia, told The Sun that Putin’s failure in Ukraine, thus far, had likely “left him friendless”.

Dr Bininachvili was speaking with reference to Kazakhstan’s recent moves away from Russia, with whom they have enjoyed bilateral foreign relations for decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

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Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, having taken help from Putin to quell civil unrest in his country in January last year, has been openly dismissive of Russia’s attempts to annex regions of Ukraine.

While sharing a stage with Putin at an economic conference in St Petersburg during the summer, he refused to recognise what he termed “quasi-state territories”, referring to the four regions illegally annexed by Russia.

And on February 16 this year, Mr Tokayev held talks with President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine to discuss “humanitarian ties” between their countries.

He is also currently hosting US secretary of state Anthony Blinken to discuss a potential deepening of relations.

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