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Fri Mar 4, 2022, 11:00 AM

Who's in Putin's inner circle and running the war?

Vladimir Putin cuts a solitary figure, leading Russia's military into a high-risk war that threatens to tear apart his country's economy.

He has rarely looked more isolated than in two recent, choreographed appearances with his inner circle, where he sits at a resolute distance from his closest advisers.

As commander in chief, ultimate responsibility for the invasion rests with him, but he has always relied on a deeply loyal entourage, many of whom also began their careers in Russia's security services. The question is who has his ear, during this most fateful moment in his presidency?

If anyone does, it is long-time confidant Sergei Shoigu, who has parroted the Putin line of demilitarising Ukraine and protecting Russia from the West's so-called military threat.

This is a man who goes on hunting and fishing trips with the president to Siberia, and he has in the past been viewed as a potential successor.

But take a look at this extraordinary photo of him at the end of this table, sitting awkwardly beside the head of the armed forces, and you wonder how much of President Putin's ear he is able to reach.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-60573261

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