Bill Browder, the American businessman who heads up the Global Magnitsky Justice Campaign, thinks that Russian President Vladimir Putin chose to wage war on Ukraine for fear of losing his grip on Russia.
“I don’t think that this war is about NATO; I don’t think this war is about Ukrainian people or the EU or even about Ukraine; this war is about starting a war in order to stay in power,” Browder told POLITICO.
“Putin is a dictator, and he’s a dictator whose intention is to stay in power until the end of his natural life,” Browder said.
Putin has “thought very carefully about what the probabilities of losing power are,” Browder added, pointing to the popular uprising against Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko and the riots this year in Kazakhstan. “He said to himself that the writing’s on the wall for him unless he does something dramatic,” said Browder.
So far, at least 6,495 Russian anti-war protestors have been arrested across all of Russia, according to the count by the human rights portal OVD Info.
Putin is “just thinking short-term … ‘how do I stay in power from this week to the next? And then next week to the next?’” He is taking a “prison yard” approach where he feels the need to look strong at all times, Browder said.
“I’m feeling terrified,” Browder said about the war in Ukraine, because Putin “constantly escalates … and he’s also somebody who has to always save face.”