Ex Russian Prime Minister Says War In Ukraine Could Last Years, Baltic States Will Be Next
EUROPE - Mikhail Kasyanov, who served as Russia's Prime Minister from 2000 to 2004 stated during an interview with Agence France-Presse that the war in Ukraine could last two years, and if Ukraine falls, the Baltic states will be next.
Kasyanov also said, however, that he was convinced Russia could return to democracy, but that the country would need around 10 years for "de-Communisation" and "de-Putinisation" in order to realize that goal, but said that it would be difficult.
He said that, like many Russians, he did not believe that Russia would actually go to war with Ukraine, but that he understood Putin was not bluffing when he saw the Russian President gather together Russia's top-leading politicians for a security council meeting just three days before Putin carried out his invasion on Ukraine on February 24th.
Kasyanov, who had been fired by Putin in 2004 and is now a Russian opposition leader stated "When I saw the meeting of Russia’s Security Council I realized, yes, there will be a war" and said that he felt that Putin at that point wasn't thinking properly.
"I just know these people and by looking at them I saw that Putin is already out of it. Not in a medical sense but in political terms" he said. "I knew a different Putin".
Kasyanov said that Putin, who is a former KGB operative has built a system based on impunity and fear. "These are the achievements of a system that, with the encouragement of Putin as head of state, has started operating even in a more cynical, cruel manner than in the final stages of the Soviet Union".
"Essentially, this is a KGB system based on complete lawlessness. It is clear that they do not expect any punishment" he added.
Kasyanov had left Russia in June because of the war and said that he is now living somewhere in Europe. Upon leaving he said that he hopes that it won't be for long.
After he said that the war could last up to two years, he said that it's imperative for Ukraine to win the war, because "If Ukraine falls, the Baltic states will be next".
Kasyanov disagreed with French President Emmanuel Macron, who had said that Putin should not be humiliated, and voiced opposition to the idea that Ukraine should give Russia territory in order to end the war.
"What has Putin done to deserve this?" he stated. "This is an overly pragmatic position. I believe this is wrong and hope that the West won’t go down that path".
He also said that eventually Putin will be replaced by a "quasi-successor" who will be controlled by the Russian security services and said that the successor would not be capable of controlling the system for very long, which should allow Russia to stage free and fair elections.
"I am certain that Russia will return to the path of building a democratic state," he said, but said that it could take about a decade for de-communization and de-Putinization of Russia and said that "This will be difficult, especially after this criminal war".
Although many have said that the Russian opposition has been utterly divided, Kasyanov said that he is confident that they will unite. "I have no doubt that now, after the tragedy that we are all witnessing, the opposition will unite" but that Russians will face the huge task of rebuilding the country.
"Everything will have to be rebuilt anew. Essentially, an entire set of economic and social reforms should be started all over again" he said. "These are enormous and difficult tasks and they will have to be done".