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Putin survives assassination attempt – how will he retaliate?

Headline seems ripped right out of my 2018 political thriller, ‘The Kremlin Conspiracy’

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks at a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron, in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 7, 2022. (Photo: Thibault Camus/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo)

We're seeing breaking news out of the Kremlin at this hour as Russian President Vladimir Putin was the possible target of an assassination overnight in Moscow.

According to The Daily Beast, the Russian presidential administration said on Wednesday that the Kremlin was attacked by drones overnight, in an attempt on President Vladimir Putin's life.

Moscow residents reported hearing two explosions behind Kremlin walls shortly after 2 a.m. local time, after which the lights went out. Footage shared by residents on a local Telegram channel captured the incident as smoke was seen filling the sky above the Kremlin.

Authorities say it was a brazen attack by Ukraine using two drones, both of which they claim to have destroyed. No injuries were reported, according to the TASS Russian News agency.

The Kremlin described the incident as a "planned terrorist attack" and "an assassination attempt on the president of Russia," and is now threatening to take "retaliatory measures."

"Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told state news agency RIA Novosti that Putin was not in the Kremlin at the time of the alleged attack, and was working out of a presidential residence near Moscow. The Kremlin said the president’s schedule was unaffected by the incident."

An official in Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's office, however, said Kyiv “has nothing to do with drone attacks on the Kremlin.”

“Ukraine does not attack the Kremlin because, firstly, that does not solve any military aims,” Ukrainian Presidential Advisor Mykhailo Podolyak said.

This is a headline ripped right out of one of my political thrillers. About five years ago, I wrote a novel called "The Kremlin Conspiracy," in which a dictator in Moscow rises to become president of the Russian Federation and is trying to decide whether he's will invade Ukraine or three Baltic states that are part of NATO - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The state of affairs becomes so dangerous in my political thriller that advisors to the Russian president believe there is risk of a World War III, including a nuclear showdown with the United States and NATO. A close advisor to the Russian president decides there's no way to stop this 'madman' in the Kremlin but to assassinate him.

I don't want to give away the rest of "The Kremlin Conspiracy." The point is that the premise of the political thriller I wrote is eerily similar to what we're watching right now.

Those who are watching the real Russian President Vladimir Putin are worried enough about the rape and pillage effort he's making to destroy and consume Ukraine that perhaps some have decided he needs to be assassinated.

We haven't yet seen any evidence that there's some sort of internal Russian effort to bring about a coup – what the Russians would historically call a putsch. Nor are we seeing any signs yet that anyone inside of Russia has tried to assassinate Putin.

But I have to tell you that my instinct is this: as Russia loses this war in Ukraine; as more and more Russian troops die on the battlefield in Ukraine; as Putin is seen as ruining the Russian economy more and more, thus bringing international condemnation upon Russia – isolation, sanctions and humiliation – there's going to be enormous and growing pressure inside Russia to remove Vladimir Putin from power in whatever way possible, whether a putsch or an assassination.

That doesn't mean that such efforts would be successful, nor does it mean that whoever follows Putin would be any better.

Nevertheless, I think this is the first of more headlines we're going to see about people trying to remove Vladimir Putin from power, making assassination an increasingly likely option.

I say that as a political thriller writer. I write fiction.

But I'm just watching this monster in Moscow, who is devastating Russia for no apparent gains politically, economically or militarily for Russia.

So, at what point do forces inside Russia decide that they have to move against Putin?

Obviously, Putin is both paranoid and well protected.

But that's why, in my political thriller, "The Kremlin Conspiracy," outside forces were not wanting to bring down the fictional Russian president as much as people inside the Kremlin; those who decided there was no other way to save their nation except to assassinate the Russian leader.

One could argue that those motivations would be disloyal to Russia. But those who would take such measures – and the way I wrote 'The Kremlin Conspiracy" – would believe their actions to be patriotic, not traitorous.

This is a story we're going to continue to track, as Russia is a major power with nuclear weapons. Any effort to remove the Russian premier, much less assassinate him, could be highly destabilizing because if it's not successful, the question is: What will Putin do next?

Joel C. Rosenberg is the editor-in-chief of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS and the President and CEO of Near East Media. A New York Times best-selling author, Middle East analyst, and Evangelical leader, he lives in Jerusalem with his wife and sons.

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