A former CIA official laid out why he believes Putin could be "eliminated" as leader of Russia.
In an interview with The Sun, James Olson said, "I think Putin will be taken out."
Olson said there is a "strong undercurrent of opposition to Putin" among military and oligarchs.
A former CIA chief believes Russian President Vladimir Putin could be a "dead man walking" because the casualty rate soldiers are suffering in the war in Ukraine have disgusted his military leaders.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, James Olson, the CIA's former chief of counterintelligence, laid out why he thinks the Russian president will either be killed or ousted from his position if he remains in power.
"It is not going well at all. I believe Putin is in a no-win situation now," Olson told The Sun.
"If Putin stays in power, there will be a long war because he will not give up — but I do not think that Putin is going to stay in power. I believe that he will be removed from power," he said.
Olson — who served in the CIA for over 30 years and received numerous medals — said he believed that due to the huge loss of life Russian troops have endured, there is a "strong undercurrent of opposition to Putin" in the military and among Russian oligarchs.
Olson concluded that if Putin were to be ousted from power by some uprising, that would end the war. He would not discount the most dramatic option in this possibility, saying, "I think Putin will be taken out. I would not rule out assassination."
Olson believes Putin's generals are "disgusted" by the futility and the carnage of the fighting in Ukraine. According to a brief from the Center for Strategic & International Studies published in February, between 60,000 and 70,000 Russian soldiers have died on the battlefield in Ukraine since the war began.
The ongoing battle for the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut has turned into a "slaughter-fest" for Russian forces, US Gen. Mark Milley, the chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the House Armed Services Committee this week.
Olson said disgruntled military leaders could be the source of an uprising against Putin.
"And if they do that, I see Putin as a dead man walking. He would not survive that. I think that it is more likely that Putin will be eliminated than a military defeat," he said.
"I am optimistic because I think the people who will be motivated to eliminate Putin will be doing that for the right reasons, that they want to save Russia," Olson said, adding that Russia would have a "bright future" if Putin were not leading the country.
Other war experts have also suggested that Putin might not relinquish control or end the war any time soon, despite high casualty rates on both sides of the conflict.
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