Abbas Gallyamov, a former aide of President Vladimir Putin, wrote in a Thursday opinion piece for Mozhem Obyasnit that Putin’s deteriorating image as a “second-rate dictator” increases the likelihood of a military coup in Russia. The author cites the growing frustration among Russian military generals due to continued losses suffered by their troops on the Ukrainian front.

Gallyamov is a political consultant and ex-speechwriter to Putin. He has not worked for Putin since 2010 and has been living in exile in Israel since 2018.

“It must be understood that the vast majority of commanders in the army of an authoritarian nation are not staunch supporters of the authorities, but run-of-the-mill opportunists,” Gallyamov wrote in the column, according to a translation from The Daily Beast.

“As problems pile up in the country and the army, that the authorities are unable to solve, Putin is more steadily transforming in people’s eyes from a great strategist to an ordinary, second-rate dictator,” he said.

Commanders will fight on the side of whoever seems most likely to win, he predicted.

Gallyamov also argued problems on the battlefield are creating rifts among Russia’s military leadership, specifically with Wagner Group founder Yevgeny Prigozhin, whose troops fight alongside the Russian army in Ukraine. 

“Prigozhin has completely discredited the regime in the eyes of service members with his rhetoric, and anger at the authorities for allowing a criminal to walk all over them is growing stronger,” Gallyamov said. 

“The longer the war drags on, the clearer its pointlessness becomes,” he added.

Recent reports from the frontline indicate that some soldiers are refusing to fight in the war, and in some more extreme cases, even killing their own commanders.

Ukrainian officials claimed this week that more than 6,500 Russian soldiers have sought to surrender through an “I want to live” hotline they set up in September, The Guardian reported.

Despite this, Putin’s grip on power appears to remain firm, former Western diplomats and government officials told Reuters in October.

Recent reports also indicate that the Russian president is in the war for the long haul, and is preparing for a new offensive in the spring. 

Gallyamov first worked in Putin’s speech-writing team from 2000 to 2001, and then from 2008 to 2010. 

Since the start of Putin’s invasion last year, Gallyamov has regularly commented on the state of the war and Russian politics in general.

Last month, the former speechwriter said that Putin likely already has an escape plan in the event he loses the war in Ukraine, citing unnamed sources. 

A spokesperson for the Kremlin did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.