Inside Vladimir Putin's Relationship With Nikolai Patrushev

Everyone the world over is well aware that the most powerful man in Russia is the nation's president, Vladimir Putin. While Putin wields immense, often unquestioned, power, there are others below him who lay claim to a fair bit of power themselves. Toward the top of that list is Nikolai Patrushev.

According to Politico, Patrushev spent his career working as an intelligence officer before eventually becoming a close Putin confidant and the head of the Russian Security Council. Aside from his career in intelligence, Patrushev is known for his penchant for spreading conspiracy theories and disinformation, such as the prevalence of Nazis in Ukraine. He's also fomented the idea that Russia wasn't the aggressor in their conflict with Ukraine, but that his nation is just on the defense against western powers (via Yahoo News).

Patrushev is also regarded as one of President Putin's closest advisors. Reportedly he has the power to influence not just the Russian government, but perhaps even the Russian president himself.

Putin and Patrushev go way back

According to Yahoo News, Putin and Patrushev's relationship goes back nearly 50 years. The two men served together in the KGB in St. Petersburg in the 1970s, back when that city was still known as Leningrad. Even after the Soviet Union collapsed, Patrushev continued working in intelligence with the KGB's successor, the FSB.

While others in Putin's inner circle have a similarly long history with the Russian ruler, according to BBC News, none of them appear to have Putin's ear quite like Patrushev. Like Putin, Partushev is one of the Russian leaders who believe — or at least says — that Russia is facing an existential threat from the West and that they need to defend themselves to survive, per Politico.

Patrushev has accused the United States of wanting to "open up access to rich resources that they think Russia unfairly controls." Additionally, Patrushev has been highly critical of NATO expanding farther east, echoing a common gripe from Putin.

Did Putin hand power over to Patrushev?

According to the New York Post, Putin reportedly handed the reins to Patrushev in May 2022 while undergoing cancer surgery, though the Kremlin denied that Putin was suffering from any health issues. While it would be easy to think that having Putin not in control would be a great thing, some are concerned that Patrushev could be even worse. Rumors of Putin's surgery and the temporary transfer of power originated on the social media site Telegram, where a video detailing the alleged plan considered Patrushev to be an even worse influence than Putin.

"I will say that this is the worst option," the video's anonymous narrator said. "Patrushev is an outright villain. He is no better than Vladimir Putin. Moreover, he is a more cunning, and I would say, more insidious person than Vladimir Putin. If he comes to power, Russians' problems will only multiply."

A word that comes up frequently to describe Patrushev is "hawkish" — meaning someone eager to go to war — and it's believed that he has been one of the most vocal supporters of Putin's invasion of Ukraine, or as the Russian regime calls it, their special military operation.