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Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a dissident and longstanding Putin critic who was once the richest man in Russia, accused Western government of failign to act quick enough to prevent the breakout of the war after failing to take appropriate action following the annexation of Crimea in 2014.
“If they had put the sanctions then like they did now, and if Ukrainians had been given the military weapons like they have been given today, then, with 100 per cent probability, Putin wouldn’t have gone to war now.
“But what happened, happened,” Mr Khodorkovsky told The Independent.
“When a gangster comes to you, not just a London hooligan, but a proper gangster, and he slaps you in the face, all you can do is to give him your wallet in the hope that he’s not going to get your trousers off.”
Russia was hit by economic sanctions after seizing Crimea in February 2014 but Mr Khodorkovsky says the West did not go far enough.
“Of course, there is some significant responsibility. The annexation of Crimea in 2014. People decided that they can continue business as usual.
“Putin took it as a weakness. And we have what we have.”
However, he said the heavy sanctions imposed on Russia will not be enough to stop the war.
He said: “I think sanctions nowadays, it’s not a possibility to stop the war,” They will limit Putin’s militaristic possibilities, but not now — at a later stage.”
Gold exports were worth £12.6 billion to Russia in 2021 and its importance has increased since Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine as oligarchs have rushed to buy bullion to avoid the impact of sanctions, Downing Street said.