Opposition in Russia to the Invasion of Ukraine: How Much of a Threat is it to Putin’s Regime?

By Nicholas Chkhaidze, Ivan Yurov, and Taras Kuzio

Vladimir Putin is terrified of telling the Russian public the truth: namely, that he has de factolaunched a full-blown war against Russia’s neighbour – Ukraine, according to a new think tank report.

In a new paper, released today by the Henry Jackson Society, a panel of authors has found that the siloviki, descendants of the senior ranks of the former Soviet KGB, military and military intelligence (GRU) who have captured the Russian state and run it as their militocracy, could pose a serious risk of triggering a coup against the Russian despot.

The paper goes on to argue that Putin’s conundrum lies in the fact that the “special military operation” was understood by the Kremlin to be a short-term military action but, as it was initially constituted, it was not sufficiently powerful to defeat the Ukrainian army. Putin is now clearly concerned that transforming the “special military operation” into a declaration of war against Ukraine and fully mobilising the Russian Army would be unpopular, both domestically and internationally, and could threaten the foundations of his regime.

In order to precipitate a possible regime change, the paper argues that the West should:

  1. The G7 group of countries should declare as its goal Ukraine’s military defeat of Russia and the return of occupied territories and provide extensive military equipment and training until this goal is achieved.
  2. The G7 group of countries should also publicly announce that it seeks to remove Putin from power. This should include spreading intelligence of the threat of a coup against the Kremlin leadership, though without endangering any such coup plotters. The US should declare Russia to be a state sponsor of terrorism and publicly declare Putin to be a war criminal 115 who constitutes a serious threat to European and global security and to the restoration of democracy in Russia. 116
  3. Foundations promoting Western democracy should significantly increase their support of the different components of Russia’s opposition as it faces unprecedented hostility from the Russian state.
  4. These foundations should also increase their support of Russian independent media outlets in Russia (if they continue to exist), Ukraine, the three Baltic states and Poland.
  5. Western governments should encourage the defection of Russian state officials who would be provided with asylum in the country of their choice in exchange for insider information on Putin’s regime, particularly the location of his overseas financial assets.
  6. Western governments should encourage the defection of officers from the Russian military with the offer of asylum in the country of their choice in exchange for information on war crimes committed in Ukraine that would be used for future criminal prosecutions of Putin and Russian leaders.
  7. A campaign must be established to increase information being shared with the Russian public through Russian independent media outlets, through Western radio stations, and through operations conducted by Anonymous on the impact of Western sanctions on the Russian economy and finances and the high number of casualties of Russian soldiers.



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