Russia’s former richest man has given a troubling prophesy about the global impact of Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.
As full-scale combat rages on for its 647th day, exiled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky has predicted that the fallout will be the toppling of Putin’s regime – and as Russia crumbles, ‘unstable, nuclear-armed states’ will be left in its wake.
The Yeltsin-era oligarch warned a breakup of the eastern European giant would be ‘an enormous mistake’, because its nuclear arsenal would fall into the hands of ‘local thugs’ like Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov.
He called on the West to try to avoid this catastrophic outcome by helping unite Russian exiles to create a ‘coalition of opposition forces’ and ‘be smarter in its application of sanctions’.
Khodorkovsky, 60, had a net worth of $15 billion at the peak of his Yukos oil empire – until Putin jailed him for alleged tax fraud in 2003. He was released 10 years later following pressure from international human rights groups.
Russia ‘s former richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky (pictured) has given a troubling prophesy about the potential global impact of Vladimir Putin ‘s war in Ukraine
The Yeltsin-era oligarch cautioned that the break-up of the eastern European giant would be ‘an enormous mistake’ because its nuclear arsenal would fall into the hands of ‘local thugs’. (Pictured: Khodorkovsky when he was Russia’s richest man with Putin in 2002)
Former Chief of Staff for the US Army’s Space and Missile Defence Command Kevin Ryan has also said that nuclear war is an ‘entirely feasible’ option for Putin if Ukrainian forces make gains on the battlefield.
Writing in German publication Körber-Stiftung this weekend, Khodorkovsky said that the war in Ukraine has exposed Putin’s weaknesses, and now ‘his regime is doomed to fail’.
The political exile, who now lives in London, said it’s ‘impossible to predict’ when this downfall will come around – but said one thing that’s certain is the war has ‘unleashed forces’ that will inevitably bring him down.
Khodorkovsky cited the attempted coup by Wagner leader Yevgeny Prigozhin as the first glimpse of this, saying his mutiny could have enabled ‘the kind of crisis essential for toppling the regime’.
He said the consequent alleged Kremlin assassination of Prighozin and his associates ‘shows how widespread dissatisfaction with Putin is within the military and how weak the regime feels, as it felt unable to put the insurgents on trial’.
The Moscow-born commentator said ‘splits are likely to occur again’ but people like Prigozhin ‘will not deliver democratization and the rule of law’ and could be even more dangerous than Putin.
‘Toppling Putin is a prerequisite for a democratic change, but we also need a vision of what comes next,’ he wrote.
‘The break-up of Russia would be an enormous mistake. The states that would emerge would inherit nuclear weapons and be ruled by local thugs like Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov.
Exiled oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky (pictured) has warned that the ongoing invasion in Ukraine will eventually topple Putin’s regime – and as Russia crumbles, ‘unstable, nuclear-armed states’ will be left in its wake
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) talks to chairman of the board of Yukos oil company, Mikhail Khodorkovsky (R) during a meeting with members of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs in the Kremlin, Moscow 31 May 2001
Putin’s forces have now been at full-scale war with Ukraine for 647 days, after launching the mass invasion on February 24 last year
Ukrainian soldiers are placed in trenches retaken from the Russian army on the Vuhledar front line as the war between Russia and Ukraine continues in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on December 01, 2023
‘A totalitarian figure could emerge, determined to rebuild the Russian empire, and the resulting militaristic, expansionist entity would again turn its grievances against Ukraine and the West.’
Khodorkovsky said he’s doubtful Russia would be in any position to orchestrate a ‘power shift towards the rule of law’ and that ‘peaceful demonstrations alone’ have little effect against ‘Putin’s brutal regime’.
He said to avoid a nuclear catastrophe, the West must utilize the thousands of Russian exiles like him who ‘provide a cadre of potential revolutionaries’ to prepare to build Russia’s ‘future democratic governance’.
‘The opposition abroad needs to be recognized as a political representative of at least the anti-Putin and anti-war part of Russian society,’ he wrote.
‘This would help opposition-minded Russians find one voice and would signal an alternative center of power.’
Lamenting how the replacement of Putin with another ‘strongman’ dictator would mean continued ‘corruption, stagnation and repression’ and ‘expansionist aggression abroad’, Khodorkovsky advocated for the creation of a ‘democratic federal republic’.
‘We need a federal structure that is empowered by the regions rather than a system in which a strong tsar at the center enables petty tsars on the periphery.’
Khodorkovsky also urged the West to be ‘smarter in its application of sanctions’ against Putin’s allies.
‘We need a predictable mechanism for the introduction and removal of personal sanctions,’ he wrote.
Khodorkovsky, 60, had a net worth of $15 billion at the peak of his Yukos oil empire – until Putin jailed him for alleged tax fraud in 2003. He was released 10 years later following pressure from international human rights groups
Khodorkovsky has said that to avoid a nuclear catastrophe, the West must utilize the thousands of Russian exiles like him who ‘provide a cadre of potential revolutionaries’ to prepare to build Russia’s ‘future democratic governance’
‘A selective lifting of sanctions via granting of visas, banking services and free ownership of assets could incentivize struggle against the regime.
‘At the same time, there should be zero tolerance towards Russians who want to live in European countries but refuse to dissociate themselves from Putin’s regime.
‘This is simply dangerous, as it implies their dependence on the regime and their likely willingness to be its tool.
‘I believe that not discriminating against Russian citizens who have distanced themselves from the Putin regime would undermine some of the Kremlin propaganda and help to drive an additional segment of Russian society away from the regime.’
Khodorkovsky’s warning came as an exclusive Daily Mail investigation revealed that Russian soldiers having been raping and torturing men as well as woman in Ukraine.
Putin’s forces have now been at full-scale war with Ukraine for 647 days, after launching the mass invasion on February 24 last year.