An intelligence director for Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense said a group of “Russian elites” are planning to assassinate their President Vladimir Putin in the wake of his disastrous decision to invade Ukraine.

They have allegedly already picked a successor to replace him, FSB director Oleskandr Bortnikov, and the Ukraine intelligence agency claims that poisoning is “not excluded” as a method for disposing of the leader.

Bortnikov has appeared on camera with Putin since the invasion began and praised actions by the Russian military including catching a Ukrainian spy on Russian soil. It’s being claimed, however, that behind closed doors, “Bortnikov and some other influential representatives of the Russian elite are considering various options to remove Putin from power.”

Russia has been sustaining heavy casualties, with their side’s death toll reportedly as high as 1,000 deaths a day. Putin has been livid at his generals – and potentially Bortnikov himself – for these difficulties, and also become increasingly paranoid about internal leakers in recent weeks.

Motivations for the rumored plot include the worry that Russia is going to become economically isolated from the West indefinitely if the invasion continues, and some elites are apparently fretting more selfishly about losing their own extensive foreign assets. The Ministry of Defense also suggested that the plan was influenced by losing a great majority of a well-known Chechen fighting squadron, which has since returned to Russia after sustaining heavy losses. That loss may have even been caused by a leak in Moscow intelligence.

These allegations are unconfirmed by any other sources, so they could be a strategic release to sow paranoia in Putin.

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