Vladimir Putin will start war with Nato if Ukraine invasion succeeds, Russian dissident warns

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·2-min read
Vladimir Putin will start war with Nato if Ukraine invasion succeeds, Russian dissident warns (evening_standard_239)
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Vladimir Putin will start a war with Nato if his invasion of Ukraine succeeds, a prominent Russian dissident has warned.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once said to be Russia’s richest man, said that “domestic problems” could force Mr Putin into a military confrontation with the west.

The businessman-turned-philanthropist has been living in the UK since 2015. He made his fortune in the 1990s through currency trading, according to Vanity Fair, and also ran oil company Yukos.

He has been an outspoken critic of President Putin since he assumed power. In 2003, he was jailed on tax evasion charges and fraud and spent ten years in prison but was pardoned shortly before the Winter Olympic Games in 2014.

In an interview with the Financial Times, he said the threat of an escalation from the conflict with the west was serious if Mr Putin achieved his goal of seizing the Donbas region.

Watch: Who is Vladimir Putin?

“If we don’t manage to deal with this plague in Ukraine, we’ll have to face it in other territories,” he told the newspaper.

“For sure, Putin is going to lose eventually. If he wins now in Ukraine he will, because of domestic problems, start a war with Nato. And he will eventually lose that war,” he added.

His warning came as Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg urged western leaders to continue their support for Ukraine despite the high economic costs of a protracted conflict.

“We must prepare for the fact that it could take years. We must not let up in supporting Ukraine,” Mr Stoltenberg told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag.

“Even if the costs are high, not only for military support, also because of rising energy and food prices.”

His comments come ahead of a NATO summit in Madrid later this month, where officials are expected to agree to an assistance package for Ukraine that will help the country move from Soviet-era weaponry to NATO-standard gear.

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