20th January, 2022
The imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny has warned the West against making concessions and falling into the traps set by Russia’s head of state Vladimir Putin in the Ukraine conflict.
“Time and again, the West falls into Putin’s traps,” the leading opposition figure wrote in several letters from his prison camp to Time magazine, which became the cover story revealed on Wednesday.
“Instead of ignoring this nonsense, the U.S. accepts Putin’s agenda and runs to organize some meetings.
“Just like a frightened schoolboy who’s been bullied by an upperclassman,” Navalny said.
The U.S. and NATO have been accusing Russia of planning an attack on Ukraine for months. Russia rejects this.
There have already been several high-level meetings on Moscow’s demands to the West for binding security guarantees.
In Navalny’s view, Kremlin head Putin is less afraid of NATO on Russia’s borders than of losing power.
“To consolidate the country and the elites,” he writes, “Putin constantly needs all these extreme measures, all these wars – real ones, virtual ones, hybrid ones or just confrontations at the edge of war, as we’re seeing now.”
Navalny suggested that linking the threat of Western sanctions in the event of an invasion of Ukraine was part of Putin’s strategy to avoid becoming the target of personal punitive measures.
He suggested that the U.S. “is pressuring the Kremlin from outside” and his supporters in Russia “are pressuring the Kremlin from within”.
In his view, this could divide the elites around Putin.
The Russian president’s fiercest opponent is serving a multi-year sentence in a prison camp in Pokrov, about 100 kilometers east of Moscow.
Navalny was arrested a year ago at a Moscow airport after receiving treatment as a result of an attack with the chemical agent Novichok.
In the interview, the 45-year-old expressed admiration for former German chancellor Angela Merkel, who had visited him at Berlin’s Charité University Hospital.
He said he was amazed by Merkel’s knowledge of the smallest details of his case and about Russia as a whole.