Putin could be killed & Russia may break up into nuke-armed mini-states in Balkans-esque bloodbath, says ex-CIA analyst | The Sun

RUSSIA will collapse into potentially nuclear armed warring mini-states as a result of Vladimir Putin’s disastrous invasion of Ukraine, a former CIA analyst has grimly predicted.

The vast country has been fatally weakened by the tyrant’s recklessness and he is likely to be killed on the verge of the tumultuous events that will engulf it in the coming years, argues Paul Goble.

Putin launched his invasion of Ukraine in the expectation of a quick victory but heroic Ukrainian resistance has led to his troops being slaughtered and shattered his prestige.

The number of Russian dead is approaching 200,000, according to Ukraine's defence ministry, while an estimated £17 billion worth of equipment has been lost.

In the wake of the disastrous defeats, attention has now focused on what happens to Russia and the fate of Putin himself.

Some are now beginning to predict the country could fall apart, with Putin’s use of ethnic minority troops who have been dying in disproportionate numbers in the Ukraine war also a factor that could come back to haunt him.


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Colourful maps have been produced by various analysts painting a picture of Russia that resembles the board game Risk – with borders redrawn and the country splitting apart into pieces.

Goble is a longstanding expert on Russia and previously the Soviet Union who has worked as an analyst for the CIA and also the US State Department.

“People are now much more open to the possibility that the Russian Federation might not be able to remain in one piece,” he told The Sun Online. 

“What we’re likely to see is something different than the coming apart of the great empires. 

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“I think that it’s going to be kaleidoscopic. It will be chaotic – what you see one year won’t be the same after two years.”

He predicted the world is facing “Yugoslavia with nukes” in reference to the bloody break-up of the former Balkan state.

When the Soviet Union broke up in 1991 into 15 new states, those where the superpower’s vast nuclear weapon arsenal was stationed were persuaded to give them up.

I would argue that this time around the period of  decay is going to be messier, longer and vastly more varied than what we had in 1991

That meant avoiding a terrifying situation in which a flurry of nations suddenly acquire weapons of mass destruction.

But Goble chillingly warns “we can certainly get that now” adding: “I suspect that there could be a lot more people with nuclear weapons than anybody is talking about.”

When it comes to mapping out a collapse, he draws parallels to the year when Russia and the Soviet Union stood on the eve of cataclysmic change – 1916 and 1991.

In 1916 Russia had a vast army fighting in World War 1 and with the opposition in jail or exile, it seemed to outsiders that the rule of its royal family with the Tsar at its head seemed secure, says Goble

But the next year the Tsar was overthrown and executed in the Russian Revolution the Soviet Union established.

Similarly, in 1991 that state seemed secure yet within a few weeks it had disintegrated and 15 new, independent countries emerged.

Goble argues Russia is standing on the verge of events that could be even more dramatic.

“I would argue that this time around the period of  decay is going to be messier, longer and vastly more varied than what we had in 1991.”

Putin, he says, “made a fatal mistake in his invasion of Ukraine” and the way he’s ruled Russia “has made the country fundamentally unstable”.

Why Russia’s patchwork of nations want to breakaway

MILITARY defeat often results in the collapse of empires and the idea that Russia could suffer the same fate is gaining popularity.

Ethnic Russians currently make up around 80 per cent of the country but beyond them is a patchwork of groups, spread out in corners of the vast country.

With anger over the disproportionate deaths they’ve suffered in Ukraine and Vladimir Putin’s authority crumbling, a growing number feel their day could be coming.

An organisation called the Forum of Free Peoples of Post-Russia exists to campaign for that end, which has representatives from the 21 republics that make up Russia.

They range from vast areas such as mineral-rich Sakha in the far east to the tiny predominantly Buddhist Kalmykia in the North Caucasus.  

In the Tyva Republic, one soldier has died per 3,000 adults compared to one in 480,000 in Moscow.

In Dagestan, another area which has suffered disproportionate casualties, riots broke out when Putin announced a mobilisation.

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“The collapse of the empire is obvious,” said Arslang Sandzhiyev, a leading Kalmyk independence campaigner.

“It is a natural historical process that has been radically accelerated by the mad and ineffective domestic and foreign policies of the Kremlin.”

“The war in Ukraine has compromised the ability of Putin to effectively run the country again," he went on.

“He has called into question the ability of a state centred in Moscow to rule anything like the territory it currently does. 

“We’re talking about the death of the Russian state and chaos after that state dies as the various component parts form and seek to sort things out.”

He agrees that Russia will begin to break up into fiefdoms controlled by local warlords as the state’s authority collapses.

“I think that's going to be part of what happens.

“We’re going to see some places where there are local strongmen, business-types, they might be military officers, they may be people who are part of an ethnic or cultural tradition.

“Russia is an incredibly complicated and diverse place and I would expect its approaching demise to be incredibly complicated and diverse too. 

“That raises the question, will there be alliances among these people? Yes. Will some of these alliances fight with each other and with foreigners? The answer to both is yes.”

He explained that “no one knows how many countries will be there, the numbers range from one to well over a hundred”.

“No one knows what the borders will be, no one knows what the political relationships will be, no one knows who will form the political elites.

“I think that process is going to take years. I don’t think that suddenly there will be 47 new states joining the United Nations.”

He singled out the Cossacks as being one group that could seek to break away from Russia.

“I think you may see Cossack proto-states. The fact is that they might play an interesting role.”

As for the fate of Putin himself, “he will either die just before it happens or shortly afterwards”.

He added: “The most likely situation is that Putin is [killed] by people who realise he’s destroying the country.”

Another factor that could spell the end of Putin and the breakup of Russia is the prospect of angry returning Ukraine war veterans from ethnic minorities, argues Douglas London, another CIA veteran.

Figures show the highest mortality of soldiers was among those from poor regions in Siberia and the Russian Far East.

“The Russians have put a great number of ethnic minorities in the field,”  London told the Background Briefing podcast.

“Putin has tried to avoid putting pressure on his base of support, which is really the more urban and affluent Russian communities in the likes of Moscow and St Petersburg.”

The former CIA station chief said Russia’s mobilisation has focused on those whose mother tongue isn’t Russian from remote and rural regions.

“There are largely aggrieved communities in Russia who are not getting resources because they're not meaningful to Putin.

“Because they’re often being used as cannon fodder this really could stir up some of these historic divisions and be something that comes home to roost.”

London drew a parallel to jihadis who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union’s occupation of the country.

”They will come home to see repression their own people have faced and like a lot of the foreign fighters of these past three decades decide to take up the cause of revolution.

“They're going to bring home radical ideas'.

“Communities that have been left behind will see their sons, brothers and fathers have been used by Putin for a cause that does very little for him.”

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