Putin will be replaced – but by someone even more extreme, warns former UK spy chief

Putin will be replaced – but by someone even more extreme, warns former UK spy chief
Vladimir Putin at the Commonwealth of the Independent States summit on Friday.Getty Images
  • The UK's former spy chief, Sir Alex Younger, said Vladimir Putin will be replaced in "due course."
  • But the ex-MI6 head told BBC Newsnight to "be very careful what we wish for."

The former head of the UK's secret intelligence service said that Russian President Vladimir Putin will be replaced "in due course" — most likely by someone even more extreme.

Sir Alex Younger, who served as MI6 chief from 2014 and 2020, appeared on BBC Newsnight on Tuesday and was asked by presenter Kirsty Wark whether Putin could be overthrown.

"He's in danger of being outflanked by the very political constituency he created," he replied. "The chauvinistic, nationalistic, arguably fascistic, right-wing that was his support base and is now castigating him for not going far and hard enough."

Wark suggested to Younger that Putin's replacement might be more extreme and further to the right.

"Yes – so we need to be very careful what we wish for here," Younger said. "I personally think in due course, that is what will happen. He will be replaced, but will be replaced by critics from the right."


Several reports suggest that Putin's inner circle might be starting to turn against him.

Last week, The Guardian reported a claim by Yevgenia Albats, editor of the Russian-language magazine News Times, that an estimated 70% of the elite around Putin was opposed to the war in Ukraine.

The Washington Post reported that a member of Putin's inner circle had voiced disagreement over the handling of the war in Ukraine directly to Putin, citing information obtained by US intelligence.

Insider spoke to experts on authoritarian regimes in March, who said that a coup against Putin was possible but noted that the Russian leader had spent decades devising mechanisms to shield himself from an unceremonious removal.