Putin will be gone within a year and the West MUST be ready for his terrifying replacement, warns ex-MI6 spy | The Sun

VLADIMIR Putin's 20-year iron fist reign will be over within a year, a former MI6 spy claimed.

Christopher Steele, who ran MI6's Russia desk between 2006 and 2009, said the West needs to "prepare for the end of the Putin era".


After two decades in power, Putin's once unquestionable control of Russia appears to be over following the Wagner rebellion and the disastrous Ukraine war.

After the extraordinary mutiny from Yevgeny Prigozhin, experts have warned that the Kremlin's "poisonous spiders" were out for blood.

Laying out possible scenarios, Steele suggested the tyrant could be assassinated by internal rebels – or by a plot from outside of Russia.

He told Sky News this would be the worst scenario for the West as "all bets would be off" – with likely "bloodshed".

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But Steele also pointed to "very credible sources telling us he's been ill for some time" – suggesting Putin could die suddenly from illness.

The leader could be ousted by an armed rebellion, or even decide it's time to go and step down at the next election in March 2024, Steele added.

But he explained that the most likely ending for Putin will be "violent" move to kill or topple him.

"A move is made violently, if necessary, to kill or topple Putin in favour of another securocrat or regime oligarch," Steele said.

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"But [it will be] one who has distanced themselves from the war and is prepared to negotiate on ending it genuinely with the West."

And the former spy revealed FSB director Alexander Bortnikov could be one of the frontrunners to take power from Putin, Steele said.

He said "rising star" Aleksey Dyumin, the governor of Tula oblast, is another potential successor, along with oligarch Igor Sechin and former Russian prime minister Viktor Zubkov.

Bortnikov is the current director of Russia’s FSB – making him one of the most powerful people in Russia and as an influential member of Putin’s inner circle.

Like Putin, he is a former officer of the KGB and first met Putin while the pair were stationed together in Leningrad – now Saint Petersburg – in the 1970s.

Since stepping into the mighty role in 2008, the terrifying spymaster is said to have turned the FSB into the “punishing sword” of Putin’s regime.

The organisation is both the brain and the heart of Putin's government and behaves like a “state within the state", according to the Dossier Center.

Not long after Putin was appointed acting president, Bortnikov was first made head of Russia's Economic Security Service, wielding huge power and leverage.

He is also one of a small handful of people in Russia to earn the rank of Army General.

And in 2006, it was claimed that Bortnikov was involved in the operation to assassinate Alexander Litvinenko.

But Steele said Putin could choose to back Dmitry Patrushev, son of the Russian Security Council secretary, or Aleksey Dyumin as the next leader of Russia.

And he warned that this would mean "little or no change to the war in Ukraine".

"But at least the West would be facing a Russian leader who has not proven to be untrustworthy, a liar, and is not indicted for war crimes," Steele added.

Steele said: "I think there is real disquiet amongst key people in the leadership now.

"Not just in the armed forces where the generals have been openly criticising Putin and the Kremlin for its support for the war – which is unheard of – but more generally the idea of the trajectory of Russia now: led by a president who's been indicted for war crimes, who's leading the Russian economy down a certain path."

Steven L. Hall, a former Russian CIA intelligence lead, said the Russian military elite pose a "real threat" to Putin.

"Men like Patrushev and Bortnikov not only possess hard power, but they know how to use it and are inclined to do so,” he told The Washington Post last year.

"The siloviki are willing to use this deadly mixture of hard power and secrecy when a serious threat to the Russian kleptocratic system emerges."

Russian siloviki translates to "people of force" or "strong men" – the term given to former military personnel who are now in political positions. 

Mr Hall added: "They have weapons and the personnel to threaten Putin.

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“They know how to operate under Putin’s radar, because they are the ones in charge of the radar itself.

"And while it is reasonable to assume Putin has some means to monitor the siloviki, he will not be able to follow their actions constantly and with great precision, given all the other issues on his plate."

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