By Guy Faulconbridge
LONDON -Russian aluminium tycoon Oleg Deripaska said on Sunday that U.S. President Joe Biden’s speech in Warsaw indicated that some sort of “hellish ideological mobilisation” was underway that may usher in a long conflict in Ukraine.
Deripaska, the founder of Russian aluminium giant Rusal who has previously called for peace, said his personal opinion was that the conflict in Ukraine was “madness” which would bring shame on generations to come.
Deripaska, who has been sanctioned by the United States and Britain, did not assign explicit blame for the conflict but said both the United States and Russia had sharpened their rhetoric.
Deripaska said he had hoped that the conflict could have ended weeks ago but that Biden’s speech – in which the U.S. president spoke about a much broader conflict between democracy and autocracy – indicated it could last much longer.
“Now some sort of hellish ideological mobilisation is underway from all sides,” Deripaska said on Telegram. “That’s it: these people are preparing to fight for a few years more.”
“It appears all sides are recklessly gearing for a long-term war that will have tragic consequences for the entire world.”
The United States in 2018 imposed sanctions on Deripaska and other influential Russians because it said they were profiting from a Russian state engaged in “malign activities” around the world.
The sanctions, an attempt to punish Moscow for alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, were “groundless, ridiculous and absurd”, Deripaska said at the time.
Since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Deripaska has been sanctioned by Britain for his alleged ties to President Vladimir Putin. He has said it will be for the courts to decide the fate of the sanctions.
Putin has said Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine was necessary because the United States was using the country to threaten Russia and Moscow had to defend against the persecution of Russian speakers by Ukraine. Ukraine has dismissed the claims of persecution as a baseless pretext for invading.