As the US and EU prepare to unveil new sanctions against Russia, accusing it of destabilising Ukraine, the former oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky has downplayed their impact.
Speaking in Donetsk where he said he was visiting to show his support for Ukrainian unity, he said: “No sanctions will affect Russia immediately. The current gold and foreign currency reserves, the peculiarities of the energy distribution system with ways that energy suppliers can be replaced, all mean that Russia’s economy won’t be put in a critical situation for the next three to five years.”
Although an opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin who had him jailed him for fraud and tax evasion, Khodorkovsky explained the Ukraine crisis from a Russian perspective:
“Today in the minds of ordinary, normal, very good Russian people, even my friends, my school friends, there is a presumption that power in Kyiv have been taken by fascists and bandits. And thus when Russia fights them, it does not fight the people of Ukraine, It fights fascists and bandits, which is perfectly acceptable.”