The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin’s inner circle?

4 mins read

Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has made a dangerous war decision that has torn the country’s economy apart, is characterized by a strong and tough personality.

According to the BBC, the ultimate responsibility for the Invasion of Ukraine lies with Putin, the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Some of the people who felt the influence of Putin’s decision began their careers in the Russian security services.

Who were putin’s advisors when he made the decision to invade?

The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin's inner circle? 1

Sergey Shoigu

Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu is Putin’s best friend and adviser and is often seen as his potential successor.

Shoigu took office in 2012 and led the 2014 invasion of Crimea. Kiev later accused Shoigu of forming illegal rebel groups fighting against the Ukrainian army.

Shoigu was also in charge of the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian Federation, one of the most powerful intelligence agencies in the world. Shoigu was blamed for the 2018 attack on former Russian agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain and the attack on opposition leader Alexei Navalni in Siberia in 2020.

Russian security expert and author Andrei Soldatov believes the defence minister is the most influential voice Putin has ever heard.

The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin's inner circle? 2

Valery Gerasimov

Chief of Staff Gerasimov has played an important role in Putin’s military operations since commanding the army in the 1999 Chechen War. Gerasimov, who oversaw military exercises in Belarus last month, also played an important role in the military campaign to annex Crimea.

Russian expert Mark Galeotti described Gerasimov as ‘sharp and very serious’.

The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin's inner circle? 3

Nikolai Patrushev

Patrushev is secretary general of the Russian National Security Council, which Putin chairs. Patrushev has been working with Putin since the 1970s. Patrushev headed the FSB organization, which replaced the KGB from 1999 to 2008.

Putin is said to listen to Partushev more than anyone.

“Patrushev is the most hawkish person who thinks the West has been trying to take Russia for years,” said Ben Noble, Associate Professor of Russian Politics at University College London.

The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin's inner circle? 4Alexander Bortnikov

Bortnikov, who worked with Putin at the KGB office in Leningrad, has been head of the Federal Security Service since 2008, replacing Patrushev. Bortnikov, an agent of the Russian Federal Security Service, has significant experience in the field of security.

It has a significant impact on the security forces of the Federal Security Service, the Interior Department and the Attorney General’s Office.

Experts say Putin tends to rely more on intelligence reports from that agency than he does from other sources.

The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin's inner circle? 5Sergey Naryshkin

Naryshkin, who serves as head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service, is one of those who served with Putin in Leningrad.

Experts say Naryshkin is known as “very loyal to Putin and accustomed to following his orders and following the line he has drawn for him.”

The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin's inner circle? 6

Sergey Lavrov

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is one of the most experienced Russian diplomats. He has headed the Russian Foreign Ministry since 2004, nearly 20 years.

Putin reportedly cared and respected Lavrov for “making no mistakes during his long career.”

The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin's inner circle? 7

Valentina Matviyenko

Matviyenko, who is president of the Council of the Russian Federation, facilitated the vote on the deployment of Russian forces abroad, paving the way for the invasion.

Experts believe Matviyenko helped make the decision to annex Crimea in 2014.

The circle that governs the war: Who is in Putin's inner circle? 8

Viktor Zolotov

Zolotov, a former bodyguard of Putin, runs the Russian National Guard, which he founded six years ago.

Experts say he is very loyal to Putin and influenced him in his decision to invade.

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