(TruthandLiberty.com) – While Russia continues its aggressive invasion against Ukraine, several high-profile Russians began speaking out against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war. When Russia invaded one of Europe’s largest countries at the end of February, thousands of people took to the streets of Russian cities to protest. Still, is it enough to persuade Putin to retreat?
Putin could tear apart the country’s economy as Russia is largely isolated from the rest of the world. Most countries joined together to enact harsh economic and diplomatic sanctions. Experts on Russia say that only a few people actually control the former soviet nation or influence Putin’s thinking. Yet, Putin’s inner circle could be larger than most people realize.
How Powerful Is Putin’s Inner Circle?
In recent days, several Russian oligarchs have opposed Putin’s war in Ukraine. A few members of the Russian parliament and numerous entertainers and athletes have also voiced opposition to the war. On Wednesday, March 2, Kremlin advisor Andrey Kortunov expressed shock at the Ukrainian invasion. The head of Russia’s largest oil producer called for a ceasefire. In the big picture, these people mean little to Putin, who has spent 20 years assembling a tight-knit group of individuals who functionally control the levers of power in Russia.
If there is going to be a change, it’ll happen by loyalists closest to Putin. Russian experts say that’s highly unlikely. So, who’s actually in Putin’s inner circle, and who’s handling the war in Ukraine?
Igor Sechin is the head of Rosneft, the massive state-controlled Russian energy company. Then, there are the political players who hold the real sway. Dmitry Medvedev was once president, prime minister and deputy chairman of the Russian security council. Alexander Bastrykin is the chairman of the Investigative Committee of Russia, and Alexander Bortnikov is the director of Russia’s spy agency. Also in the mix in Putin’s inner circle is defense minister Sergei Shoigu, Russian armed forces head Valery Gerasimov and Russian security council secretary Nikolai Patrushev.
Who’s Running the War for the Russians?
Shoigu may be the strongest influence on Putin regarding any issue, especially the Ukraine war. Russian security expert Andrei Soldatov said the defense minister is the most influential voice in Putin’s ear. The two often hunt and fish together in Siberia, and experts agree Shoigu will likely succeed Putin when the time comes, but for now, it’s his job to oversee the invasion of Ukraine, and he’s controlled the military since 1999.
Aside from those facts, Shoigu was an outspoken Putin sympathizer when defending Russia from NATO and creating a so-called military threat from the West. In 2014, Putin credited Shoigu for developing and executing the plan that led to Russia annexing Crimea.
As long as Putin’s inner circle remains tight, the country is firmly under Putin’s control. However, if one voice cracks, it could mean problems in the Russian President’s inner sanctum.
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