American Family News spoke to James Olson, a former chief of counterintelligence at the CIA who has followed Putin's career since the Russian leader was a lieutenant colonel for the KGB in the 1980s. According to Olson, Putin was identified as "dangerous" and "ruthless" from the beginning – and many CIA officials knew it was going to be "a very, very bad thing" when Putin left the KGB in 1991 and went into politics.
"A KGB killer going into politics was not going to be good for Russia or for the world – and he certainly lived up to that concern," Olson adds. "[Putin has proven to be] a man who has no respect for human rights, for national sovereignty, [or] for international law."
Pointing to Putin's destructive involvement in Chechnya, Syria, Crimea, and now Ukraine, Olson contends the Russian president "is so power hungry that he has made a fatal miscalculation" – and he's convinced Putin will not survive the Ukraine war.
"He's destroying Russia," Olson tells AFN. "[His] sanctions are hurting Russia, [making the country] an international pariah."
Regarding the "good people" of Russia, the former CIA official says Putin is "destroying their livelihoods, their reputations, [and] their futures." As a result, Olson adds, people in Russia are ashamed of their country, and motivation in the military is weak.
Olson, however, remains hopeful that whoever succeeds Putin will be "doing it for the right reasons, wanting what is best for Russia." He is optimistic that the new leadership will return Russia to the international community, move to have the sanctions removed, and restore peace to the region, exiting Ukraine in the process.
One way or another …
Olson admits he doesn't know if Putin's demise will be via assassination, suicide, or health, but he's convinced Putin "is a dead man walking."
Earlier this year, media reports regarding Putin surviving two assassination attempts began to circulate. Olson suspects these attempts likely will continue, eventually resulting in Putin's death. In fact, Olson suspects there are people in Putin's "inner circle, [including] some combination of the military, intelligence services, and oligarchs, who for the right reasons want to save Russia from what Putin is doing and are willing to take him out."
While Olson considers that "a pretty stark assessment," he adds "there are precedents – and tyrants tend to die violently." Putin, says Olson, is no exception.
Secondly, as Putin continues to face defeat and humiliation in Ukraine, Olson suggests the Russian leader could take his own life. "He has never known defeat in anything he's done, so I think there is a psychological basis for [that possibility]," he says. "A loss in Ukraine could be more than Putin can stand."
Finally, Olson says, "another aspect of his short longevity is his physical health." There has been speculation that Putin is suffering from Parkinson's disease and is undergoing treatment by oncologists, presumably for thyroid cancer.
If indeed Putin is nearing his demise, Olson is concerned the Russian president is going to do everything he can to achieve a victory in Ukraine. He expects Putin to become "absolutely vengeful [and to] strike back with even more ruthlessness than he's already shown to the Ukrainians."
Beyond indiscriminate civilian bombings, Olson also warns that because Putin is "without scruples of any kind" he wouldn't rule out the Russian leader even deploying a tactical nuclear weapon.
"This is a really bad combination – someone who's mentally unstable and who has his finger on the trigger of nuclear weapons," he states.