Many top Moscow military officials and oligarchs believe that Putin is dying or seriously ill. The well-known investigative journalist Christo Grosew reported to the “Daily Mail”. Grozew is an expert on Russian affairs and works for the open source research group Bellingcat, among others.
Believing that Putin might die soon, his inner circle would not risk triggering Armageddon. Therefore, nobody wants to be presented with a modern equivalent to the Nuremberg trials in the future because they are responsible for starting a nuclear war. For the same reason, those closest to him would not obey an order from Putin to kill members of the opposition, Grozev explains.
Since the invasion of Ukraine began, Putin has repeatedly fueled fears of nuclear war in the West. As soon as the invasion began on February 24, Russia’s president put Moscow’s nuclear forces on high alert. Amid mounting Western support for Ukraine, Putin has issued thinly veiled threats suggesting a willingness to use Russia’s tactical nuclear weapons. According to Russian military doctrine, they could be used to force the enemy to retreat.
Recently, Russia has reverted to nuclear saber-rattling as the war in Ukraine stalled. For the past week, state media have published threats on an almost daily basis – including threats to wipe out the UK and Ireland with a “nuclear tidal wave”.
Hristo Grozev also addresses Putin’s meeting with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, during which the president clung convulsively to the corner of the table with his right arm, or his recently stumbling, limping walk. The investigative journalist underlines: “I cannot speak without having information.” What you know: oligarchs from his closest circle claim that Putin is ill.
In addition, the Russian domestic intelligence agency FSB sent a letter to all regional FSB chiefs about a month ago. It said: “If you hear that he has a very serious illness, we insist that you pay no heed to it.” Grosew says, “So they all thought this meant the opposite.”
How ill Putin actually is is not the decisive question, says Grozew: “I think it’s not that important whether he’s dying or seriously ill, it’s important that the people around him think that. This is a factor that decides how loyal people should be to him. I believe this reduces the risk of them obeying his orders to kill enemies like they have done in the past. For the same reason, if someone is unlikely to press the nuclear button knowing that they will be gone in three or six months, who will protect them from a Nuremberg trial?”