Ukraine war latest: Putin’s ‘amazing’ change indicates ‘serious instability’ in Russian leadership, ex-MI6 officer says | World news

The changes point to “serious instability” at the heart of Russia’s leadership – with “something deeper” likely to happen

This is not just an ordinary shift, but a “serious instability at the heart” of the Russian regime, a former MI6 intelligence officer said.

Speaking to Sky News, Christopher Steele said the removal of Nikolai Patrushev as secretary of the Russian Security Council was “amazing”.

“It’s important to understand that he was one of Putin’s closest allies, the former head of the FSB and so on for many years … and people rated him as the second most influential person in Russia after Putin himself.

“I think it indicates that this is not just a shifting of normal government lines. This is really quite serious instability at the heart of this regime,” he said.

Mr Steele said it had been “clear” to Russia watchers for some time that Mr Patrushev was naming his son Dmitry, the current agriculture minister, as Mr Putin’s successor.

“I think this, as I say, is a very important step by Putin,” he added.

“Something much deeper” is happening

Asked why Mr. Putin removed Shoigu as defense minister at a time when Russia appears to have the upper hand in the war, Mr. Steele says it may indicate something deeper is going on.

“From a military point of view, it’s hardly ideal to change your defense minister just as you’re launching a new offensive,” he explained.

“It underscores to me that there’s something deeper going on here.

Mr Steele also described Shoigu’s move to the Security Council as a “demotion” – but reiterated that moving Mr Patrushev, a member of the Russian president’s inner circle, to an unknown post was “extraordinary”.

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