Putin 'risks rebellion' from his security service which is 'furious' over Ukraine invasion

24 March 2022, 10:08

Putin is at risk of rebellion from his FSB security service, it's been claimed
Putin is at risk of rebellion from his FSB security service, it's been claimed. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Vladimir Putin is facing an increasing risk of rebellion from his security services as long as his disastrous war in Ukraine rumbles on, a dissident Russian journalist has claimed.

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Vladimir Osechkin has been publishing letters by an agent in the Federal Security Service [FSB], the principal successor to the notorious Soviet-era KGB, which reveal anger at the president.

He claims this demonstrates how precarious Putin's relationship with the organisation is, given the risk of speaking out.

Putin is claimed to have blamed the FSB for Russia's failure in Ukraine, with observers believing he had intended to overthrow the democratically-elected government of Volodymyr Zelenskyy rapidly.

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Instead, Russian forces has been bogged down with a slow-moving invasion and facing stiff Ukrainian resistance. Kyiv even appears to have launched counterattacks in some areas.

Explaining the dissidence that he believes is growing within the FSB at Putin, Mr Osechkin - who lives in exile in France - said: "For 20 years Putin created stability in Russia.

"FSB officers, policemen, state prosecutors - those people inside the system - were able to live good lives.

"But now that has all gone. They recognise that this war is a catastrophe for the economy, for humanity. They don't want to go back to the Soviet Union."

The FSB, of which Putin is a former director, enjoys a privileged position in Russia and sanctions preventing them travelling to Europe will have an effect, Mr Osechkin believes. He has published several letters from a whistleblower he says works in the FSB.

The journalist, who founded Gulagu.net, a human rights group, has reported on abuse in Russia's prisons, which earned him a sport on a Kremlin wanted list.

He also told The Times dissident agents would challenge the system in Russia if needed, and added: "For every week and every month that this war continues, the possibility of a rebellion by those in the security services increases."

Some memories in Russia will be long enough to remember the old KGB's role in the 1991 coup attempt against Mikhail Gorbachev.

Fears have grown over how Putin will conduct the war now his forces have had to fight a more protracted conflict.

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The Kremlin has been criticised for speaking about its willingness to use nuclear weapons if threatened sufficiently, while the US has worried about the potential deployment of chemical weapons.

Russian forces have devastated Ukrainian cities, with much focus on Mariupol, in the south of the country, where civilians have been pummelled by heavy bombardments.

There is speculation Putin could give up on his approach to Kyiv and instead focus on taking the Donbas region - parts of which are under pro-Russian rebel control - by concentrating his military's efforts there.

Boris Johnson is due to meet other Nato leaders in Brussels, a month after Russia invaded. He told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast he wanted to go further with measures against Russia, possibly by targeting its gold reserves.

He is due to send another 6,000 missiles to the country, which has used British-supplied NLAW launchers to great effect against Russian armour.

Nato is to confirm four new battlegroups will be set up in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria. They will number about 1,000 to 1,500 troops each.

Mr Zelenskyy is also set to address Nato, as he calls for global demonstrations to mark a month since Russia invaded.