Putin could fall if Russia is defeated in Ukraine, ex-diplomat says

‘Russia’s elites may force Putin to go to sleep and never wake up’: Diplomat who quit over Ukraine invasion says Vladimir is fighting for his life… and may use a nuke to show he is serious

  • Putin could face a coup and may be killed if he loses in Ukraine, ex-diplomat says 
  • Boris Bondarev said decisive defeat would make him weak in the eyes of ordinary Russians and might prompt elites to try and get rid of him 
  • He dismissed idea that negotiations can end the war, saying they will be viewed as a sign of weakness and convince Russia to fight harder 

Vladimir Putin is fighting for his life in Ukraine and could face a coup if he is defeated, a veteran diplomat who resigned over the war has said. 

Boris Bondarev, who quit Russia’s UN mission in May, said Putin’s elites ‘may force him to go to sleep and never wake up’ if the invasion is decisively beaten back. 

Speaking to MailOnline, he said that trying to negotiate an end to the war with the Kremlin is pointless because it will be read as a ‘sign of weakness’ and will only convince Russia to fight harder.

‘You provoke [Putin] with all the talk of not provoking him,’ he said. ‘At some point there will be a time when Putin will use something like nuclear weapons just to show he is serious about them. 

Vladimir Putin could be ‘forced to go to sleep and never wake up’ if his invasion in Ukraine fails, a former diplomat who resigned over the war has said

‘Backing down makes the probability of him using nukes in Ukraine higher.’

The Kremlin hardliners who began the war did so because they believe the West is ‘afraid, weak and not capable of fighting for Ukraine’, he said.

Mr Bondarev believes that talk among Western leaders of not wanting to escalate the war, or cross a Kremlin ‘red line’ only ‘convinces them they were right’.

Asked how likely it is that Putin could be toppled, he said: ‘I think there are chances Putin could be forced from office.

‘But first he must be regarded by his own people as a loser, as someone who lied and made them fools. 

‘They must see him as weak, and that will happen only if he is truly and widely defeated in Ukraine. 

‘If his defeat in Ukraine is widely understood, widely known to general population and his elite, may force him to go to sleep and never wake up.’

Mr Bondarev dismissed fears that whoever takes over after Putin could be another hardliner – perhaps even less inclined to end the war.

Pro-war elites will not depose Putin, he believes, because they know they can get what they want out of him.

A decisive Ukrainian victory would make Putin weak in the eyes of the Russian people and elites and lead to his downfall, Mr Bondarev believes (file image)

Russia has sustained heavy losses in Ukraine but still holds large amounts of territory and is not close to be beaten (file image, a Russian soldier in Mariupol)

‘Pigeons and not hawks’ will oust Putin, he added, likely prompted by a shift in Russian public opinion against him.

While power-players within the Putin regime may try to take the top seat when it become vacant, Mr Bondarev believes they will destroy each-other in the process.

As for what happens to Russia next, he says the country cannot be left to its own devices otherwise history will simply repeat itself.

He said: ‘[Russia] should be regarded as a very ill society… totalitarianism is disease and Putin is symptom of that disease.

‘Russia must overcome this disease and recover from it. If you have a sick person you don’t leave him be on the street so he dies, you help him to recover. Russia will require help after Putin. 

‘You hear people say that Russia… is not our problem, you caused the war so it is your problem. That is understandable, but that is very dangerous notion. 

‘If Russia is left to its devices then in 10 or 15 years we may be facing the same problem we are facing today – Russia could end up as a giant North Korea.’

Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, with British think-tank RUSI saying the initial plan called for a 10-day attack to be followed by occupation, and eventually annexation by August this year.

Mr Bondarev said Russia started the war in Ukraine because it believes the West is ‘frightened and weak’ and backing down would only ‘confirm this’ (file image) 

That plan has spectacularly backfired, with the attack blunted and then turned back around Kyiv, Chernihiv, and Kharkiv. 

Putin did announce the annexation of four partially-occupied Ukrainian regions in late September, but since then has lost control of the city of Kherson – capital of one of the regions he claimed as part of Russia.

Ukraine is now fighting off attacks aimed at seizing full control of another of those regions – Donetsk – and is recapturing land in a third – Luhansk.

Kyiv, which began the war with the simple goal of surviving, now says the aim is to recapture all of its lost territory – including land seized in 2014, meaning the whole of Donbas and Crimea.

However, Ukraine’s generals will rely heavily on Western weapons such as tanks, attack vehicles and fast jets to do so.

There has been little or no discussion among allies yet on sending those kind of arms on to the battlefield. 

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