Putin's Inner Circle Could Oust Him 'All of a Sudden': Ex-CIA Insider

Russian President Vladimir Putin's life could come to a swift end due to discontent from his inner circle, according to one former CIA operative.

Daniel Hoffman is a distinguished former member of the CIA, where he served as the head of the agency's Moscow office three times. On Friday, The Daily Beast published an article featuring Hoffman's perspective on Putin's grasp of power in Russia amid the tumultuous invasion of Ukraine.

By Hoffman's estimation, should the war ultimately prove to be a failure, Putin could meet a swift and abrupt end at the hands of his own inner circle.

"These guys that are going to do it are going to be so secret about it, so that Putin doesn't find them and kill them first," the former CIA operative explained. "It'll happen all of a sudden. And he'll be dead."

vladimir putin ouster inner circle
Vladimir Putin's inner circle could oust him swiftly in the event that Russia's invasion of Ukraine fails, according to a former CIA operative. Above, a shot of Putin at a meeting. Mikhail Klimentyev/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

Ronald Marks, a former CIA clandestine service officer, also spoke with The Daily Beast, and had a much less definitive take on the situation, explaining that Putin has managed to keep a tight grip on his inner circle. Any high-ranking Russian officials that have been critical of the invasion or been otherwise deemed a threat to the Russian president have been in some ways sidelined.

"I think he's OK as long as the siloviki [members of the elite security services] are on his side," Marks said. "And he's done a nice job of getting rid of those who aren't..."

Nonetheless, Hoffman asserted that those closest to Putin will turn on him as soon as they feel the situation in Ukraine has turned sufficiently sour, or if a bigger war seems inevitable.

"Nobody's gonna ask, 'Hey Vladimir, would you like to leave?' No. It's a f**king hammer to the head and he's dead. Or it's time to go to the sanatorium," he added. "They schwack him for it. That's what they'll do."

Marks added that the Russian people will likely turn fully against Putin and the invasion once the country's economic sanctions become too dire for them to bear. Russia is currently being subjected to historically strong sanctions from numerous countries in response to its military actions.

"The Russians are very sensitive, more than they would say, to internal opinion within Russia," Marks said. "It's a country that will explode, but it takes a long time...When you do see the explosion it's going to come around the economics. Once they can't get food, once things get rough like that, then you're going to see people in the streets."

Newsweek reached out to Russian officials for comment.

Russia on Saturday reported that it had successfully occupied the Eastern Ukrainian city of Severodonetsk, its biggest military victory since taking over Mariupol. With this, Russia now occupies most of the Luhansk region, and might attempt to occupy the city of Lysychansk next, which would complete its control of the area.