Exiled Russian oligarch says 'the next steps' of Putin's war may be invasion of the Baltic countries: 'He's at war with the United States and NATO'

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  • Mikhail Khodorkovsky told CNN that Vladimir Putin was at war "not with Ukraine" but with NATO.

  • The exiled oligarch said propagandists were preparing Russians "for an attack on NATO countries."

  • Khodorkovsky said Putin would prepare to invade the Baltics if he concluded he'd won in Ukraine.

The exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in an interview with CNN on Sunday that the next step in Russian President Vladimir Putin's war in Ukraine might be the invasion of the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

"We must understand that, in his head, Putin is at war not with Ukraine," Khodorkovsky said. "He's at war with the United States and NATO. He said this more than once."

Khodorkovsky, a former oil tycoon, was considered the wealthiest man in Russia until 2003 when, for what he says were political reasons, Putin charged him with financial crimes and imprisoned him for nine years. Since Khodorkovsky's release in 2013, he has been an outspoken critic of the Kremlin and Putin's government.

"His propagandists have already been started to prepare Russian society for an attack on NATO countries. They're constantly talking about this," Khodorkovsky said. "And this is the preparation of Russian public opinion for this."

Early last month, Khodorkovsky predicted the invasion of Ukraine would end Putin's government. In his Sunday interview with Fareed Zakaria, however, he expressed concern that Putin went "insane" when Ukrainians resisted the invasion and that the attacks could escalate.

"I'm absolutely convinced that, if Putin decides that he has won in Ukraine, this is not going to be the last step, the last war," Khodorkovsky said. "The next steps will be the Baltic countries."

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are all members of NATO. President Joe Biden said early after Russia invaded Ukraine that the US would "defend every inch of NATO territory," and he's moved American troops into the region.

Read the original article on Business Insider