Russian opposition believes President Vladimir Putin‘s days as the Kremlin’s leader could soon come to an end following the recent developments in the war in Ukraine.
Russia first launched the invasion of Ukraine in February. Since then, the country has been hit with a series of economic sanctions from the West. It also held a partial mobilization of about 300,000 reservists and canceled or scaled back New Year’s celebrations to fund the war instead.
Russian critics now say these factors are leading residents to question whether they should still continue supporting the war. The latest independent and Kremlin-controlled polls show that only 25% are in favor of continuing the war.
“Putin could have ruled longer if he did not start this war but now his days are really numbered, he is falling apart and he is clearly aware of it,” Yulia Galiamina, a Moscow-based opposition politician, told The Daily Beast.
“Russia has obviously lost the war, which will lead to the collapse of the regime but the question is how many more people will die before that happens,” Russian chess grandmaster and outspoken critic of the Kremlin Garry Kasparov also told the outlet.
In addition to the results of the polls, several Russian oligarchs who were sanctioned by the West are now slamming Putin for allegedly tricking them into appearing in front of television cameras to support his invasion of Ukraine, an investigation published Saturday by The New York Times showed.
The investigation also found that many of Putin’s top advisors did not know the full extent of his plans to invade Ukraine until it was already underway.
For instance, Konstantin Zatulin, a member of Parliament in Mr. Putin’s United Russia party, said he was scheduled to give an address on Feb. 15 on behalf of the party that signaled there would be no invasion unless Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky himself launched an offensive in the divided eastern region.
However, the speech was canceled by the Party’s leadership five minutes before the scheduled session.
“I was not ready for this turn of events,” Mr. Zatulin said. “Everything connected to this decision turned out to be a surprise not just for me, but also for a great many of the people in power.”
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman, had also said he only found out about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine after it began.
The war between Russia and Ukraine began in February. Since then, Moscow has lost about 98,280 military personnel, per estimates from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.