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Russian dictator Vladimir Putin will be desperate to remain in power for fear of what his successor might do to him, a former top US general has said.

In the cutthroat halls of Russian power politics, where he cannot rely on the rule of law and institutions of government to protect him, Vladimir Putin may be in real danger from senior military and security figures over Russia’s catastrophic performance in the invasion of Ukraine.

General Jack Keane believes Putin, who is reported to be in severely bad health, will do ‘anything’ to stay in power after finding the bite he has taken out of Ukraine might be more than he can chew. 

‘He’s all about staying in power. That’s his motivation. He will do anything to stay in power. 

‘He knows full well that a successor who doesn’t agree with him could mean his demise.’

With the Russian war effort faltering and floundering each day a little more, greater and greater pressure is put on Putin to achieve some tangible success and ward off the powerful and aggressive ‘siloviki’ – or security bloc of ex-KGB officers.

Vladimir Putin chairing the his Security Council in which the decision to invase Ukraine was taken on Feb 21. He will be desperate to remain in power for fear of what his successor might do to him, a former top US general has said

Vladimir Putin chairing the his Security Council in which the decision to invase Ukraine was taken on Feb 21. He will be desperate to remain in power for fear of what his successor might do to him, a former top US general has said

Vladimir Putin chairing the his Security Council in which the decision to invase Ukraine was taken on Feb 21. He will be desperate to remain in power for fear of what his successor might do to him, a former top US general has said

General Jack Keane (above) told Fox Busines he believes Putin, who is reported to be in severely bad health, will do 'anything' to stay in power

General Jack Keane (above) told Fox Busines he believes Putin, who is reported to be in severely bad health, will do 'anything' to stay in power

General Jack Keane (above) told Fox Busines he believes Putin, who is reported to be in severely bad health, will do ‘anything’ to stay in power

Putin sits facing the members of Russia's Security Council in the Kremlin. With the Russian dictator's health failing and the invasion floundering, there is real concern of a 'palace coup'

Putin sits facing the members of Russia's Security Council in the Kremlin. With the Russian dictator's health failing and the invasion floundering, there is real concern of a 'palace coup'

Putin sits facing the members of Russia’s Security Council in the Kremlin. With the Russian dictator’s health failing and the invasion floundering, there is real concern of a ‘palace coup’

Ex-FSB chief Patrushev (left) is a fearsome Kremlin official and war advocate (2015 image). He is reported to be Putin's choice to take the reigns of government while the leader undergoes cancer surgery

Ex-FSB chief Patrushev (left) is a fearsome Kremlin official and war advocate (2015 image). He is reported to be Putin's choice to take the reigns of government while the leader undergoes cancer surgery

Ex-FSB chief Patrushev (left) is a fearsome Kremlin official and war advocate (2015 image). He is reported to be Putin’s choice to take the reigns of government while the leader undergoes cancer surgery

The yellow areas mark Russian retreat from Ukraine, something that the security establishment is apparently furious about and blames Putin

The yellow areas mark Russian retreat from Ukraine, something that the security establishment is apparently furious about and blames Putin

The yellow areas mark Russian retreat from Ukraine, something that the security establishment is apparently furious about and blames Putin 

They reportedly blame the Russian president, who is thought to be scheduled for cancer surgery in the near future, for the embarrassing failure to even attempt to take Kyiv and the retreat from northern Ukraine.

‘He still wants to take the country over, topple the regime – and I take Putin seriously,’ General Keane continued to Fox Business

‘I think many of us discounted him for a number of years, but he is about returning to the Russian Empire.

‘I think as long as he’s in power, he will be in pursuit of it.’

He added: ‘He has no future beyond him being the president of Russia. That’s a fact.’

Russian leaders have a mixed record of surviving losing power in a country where democratic norms have never taken root.

Putin himself was respectful to his predecessor, Boris Yeltsin, refusing to prosecute him for the various accusations of corruption that surrounded him and his daughter from his time in power.

Putin, pictured last week, reportedly has Parkinson’s, cancer and schizophrenic symptoms

Putin seems not to have much faith in any successor that might follow him and finds himself trapped in the classic dictator's dilemma, in which he cannot hand over power for fear that his successor might prosecute him or strip him of assets he has accumulated or even have him killed

Putin seems not to have much faith in any successor that might follow him and finds himself trapped in the classic dictator's dilemma, in which he cannot hand over power for fear that his successor might prosecute him or strip him of assets he has accumulated or even have him killed

Putin seems not to have much faith in any successor that might follow him and finds himself trapped in the classic dictator’s dilemma, in which he cannot hand over power for fear that his successor might prosecute him or strip him of assets he has accumulated or even have him killed 

And Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet premier, still lives free and unbothered near Moscow at the age of 91. 

But Putin himself seems not to have such faith in any successor that might follow him and finds himself trapped in the classic dictator’s dilemma, in which he cannot hand over power for fear that his successor might prosecute him or strip him of assets he has accumulated or even have him killed. 

As a keen student of history, the Russian president will be aware of the circumstances surrounding the death of the last great Russian dictator, Joseph Stalin. 

His advisor Lavrentiy Beria, upon finding the tyrant on his death bed, is reputed to have said: ‘Can’t you see, Comrade Stalin is sleeping soundly? Don’t disturb him and stop alarming us.’

It is thought that a powerful bloc among the country’s generals are eager to declare all out total war on Ukraine, invade Moldova and even take on NATO due to its material support for Ukraine. 

But the Russian war machine has been hampered by strategic incompetence that has left its armed forces ‘significantly weaker’ and less feared, despite Moscow doubling its military budget in 13 years, Britain’s Ministry of Defence says. 

And the MoD said that Russia has lost a quarter of its combat forces deployed in Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion.

According to intelligence experts, Russia committed more than 120 battalion tactical groups, some 65 per cent of their entire ground combat strength.

Meanwhile the Russian dictator is reported to have scheduled cancer surgery in the near future and will be out of commission – and hence acutely vulnerable to a palace coup  – for several days.

He will reportedly hand over the reigns of the war to hardline Security Council head and ex-Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Nikolai Patrushev while he is under the knife. 

At the same time, Ukraine’s top military spy has suggested the only way Russia will stop its brutal invasion is if Vladimir Putin dies.

Kyrylo Budanov said it is ‘unrealistic’ to expect the Kremlin to completely withdraw its forces from Ukraine.

When asked if Putin could end the war alive, he told The New Voice of Ukraine: ‘Leaving him a way to retreat is one of the strategies, but it is almost unrealistic.’ 

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