“The invasion of Ukraine is suicide for Putin,” says Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Michael Khodorkovsky, an exiled Russian Kremlin critic, said in an interview with France 24 in London that the Russian invasion of Ukraine is a political “suicide” of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who “cannot win in Ukraine, even if he manages to take Kyiv or Kharkiv”. The former oligarch said this war was the result of an “emotional decision” by Putin.

Mikhail Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest man, has already spent ten years in prison over what he says are false accusations by the Kremlin. He has lived in exile in London since his release from prison in 2013.

In an interview with France 24, Khodorkovsky said Putin was “deeply disturbed” by events in Ukraine since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and Moscow-backed rebels declared independent republics in eastern Ukraine.

Khodorkovsky said the Russian president’s decision to invade Ukraine was an “emotional” one, but while Putin was showing “signs of aging megalomania”, he was not “crazy in the clinical sense”.

But, the Russian businessman continued, Putin made “many mistakes” in planning the invasion of Ukraine, in part due to the isolation that plagued “all authoritarian leaders”. The Russian president’s invasion of Ukraine was a “historic mistake”, otherwise he would have remained in power until his death. Khodorkovsky said that Putin is committing political “suicide”, because “he cannot win Ukraine, even by seizing Kyiv and Kharkiv.”

A Kremlin critic predicted the “collapse” of the Russian regime within “a year or two”. While Russian public opinion largely supports the war, due to propaganda and the Kremlin’s suppression of the press, this positive view will change once Russian soldiers return in coffins and the population begins to suffer the effects of economic sanctions and international isolation.

Khodorkovsky said he believed Putin was now trying to “buy time” in the face of the growing anti-war movement in Russia, and that in order to stop the demonstrations, he would have to resort to bringing in his army.

He repeated the call for anti-war demonstrations launched from prison by Alexei Navalny, a critic of Putin.

Khodorkovsky said a week ago that he “would have laughed” at the mention of nuclear war. But “not today”: “Putin is ready to use tactical nuclear weapons.”

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