Putin’s options dwindling as fears grow that FSB ‘will hand him over to Hague’

Putin speaks at event marking anniversary of Battle of Kursk

Vladimir Putin may be forced into resigning this year and has growing concerns that his allies might hand him over to international prosecutors, an expert has said.

The news comes as the Russian President continued to play diplomacy in his meeting with his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogan to discuss the Black Sea grain deal.

Erdogan said the deal, which was originally negotiated last year but collapsed in early 2023, would soon be revived, helping to alleviate a global food crisis.

Along with some of his inner circle, Putin has in recent months carried out several diplomatic meetings, mostly with neutral and allied figures from around the world, hoping to secure favour in places like Africa and reinforce existing relations with people like Erdogan.

But the world may well see a different person lead such discussions after Dr Yuri Felshtinsky claimed Putin would resign either in late 2023 or early 2024 — something that will thrust him into a position of great difficulty.

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He believes the Federal Security Service (FSB) will choose the next Russian President, leaving Putin no option but to resign ahead of next year’s presidential elections.

“Resignation before a term is up is common in Russia,” he said. “But there’s a catch: when Boris Yeltsin left office in 1999, Putin signed a decree granting him immunity from persecution.

“When Putin will leave, no one is going to do this for him because he is under an international arrest warrant.”

An arrest warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, earlier this year after evidence for the mass deportation of children from Ukraine to Russia became apparent.

While Dr Felshtinsky said he doesn’t believe Putin’s circle are likely to send him to The Hague, “that’s what he will be afraid of.”

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He continued: “He doesn’t trust his comrades from the FSB. He will be afraid that if he leaves office he becomes just an ordinary citizen.”

“Sooner or later, he might be sent to a tribunal because this might be the easiest way [for the Kremlin] to claim that he is the only person responsible for the crimes committed in Ukraine.”

Russian law states that no sitting president can be removed from their post unless they resign.

But Dr Felshtinsky believes that it is largely outside of Putin’s control and that the FSB is the force eyeing up Russia’s next leader.

He said the security service may be fed up with Russia’s performance in the Ukraine war and desire a change in leadership to change tact.

“Does the FSB want to escalate the war? Does it want to de-escalate the war? We just don’t know right now. But they are in charge,” he said.

The FSB is one of Russia’s most powerful institutions and is the successor to the feared KGB, once the world’s largest secret police and Soviet foreign intelligence organisation in the world.

Putin was made in the KGB, himself a budding agent who was highly praised for his covert work in Eats Germany, later going on to become FSB Director before becoming Prime Minister and later President in 1999.

The FSB has eyes everywhere and is even believed to have agents operating in Ukraine.

Earlier this year the organisation claimed to have thwarted Ukrainian agents operating in Russia, footage published to social media showing military police raiding various buildings and tackling men walking down streets.

Late last month, it said it thwarted a Ukrainian sabotage mission in Russia’s border regions, where two fighters were killed in the Navlinsky district just south of the regional capital.

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