'First stage of World War III,' says Garry Kasparov

STORY: “It’s the first stage of World War III…”

Russian human rights activist and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov on Thursday urged world powers to adopt a harsher military and economic strategy against Russian President Vladimir Putin for his invasion of Ukraine… calling it nothing short of “the first stage of World War III.”

“It's a genocide, live. It's the first time in our history, in human history, when we are watching war crimes on industrial scale, committed by Putin's criminal regime." (flash) "It's the first stage of the World War Three, and it's not war of our choosing.”

In an interview with Reuters, Kasparov called on Western countries to recall their ambassadors from Moscow, eject Russia from the global police agency Interpol, and impose a no-fly zone over Ukraine.

“Russia should be thrown back into the Stone Age to make sure that oil and gas industry and any other sensitive industries that are vital for survival of the regime cannot function without Western technological support.”

Kasparov – who spoke to Reuters from New York on Thursday - played an active role in the anti-Kremlin opposition protest movement when he lived in Moscow and in the years since has been an outspoken Putin critic.

He told Reuters there could be no peace in the region until Putin is removed from power – and took aim at U.S. President Joe Biden for not taking more aggressive action against the Russian leader earlier.

“I hope that Americans will revise their strategy and will show strength. Never in history was a dictator stopped by restraint. A dictator already started an aggressive war, and he has committed war crimes beyond imagination."

Sanctions so far imposed by the U.S. and other NATO countries have isolated Russia to an unprecedented extent for an economy of such size. Hundreds of Russian soldiers and Ukrainian civilians have been killed since Russian troops crossed the border on Feb. 24, and more than 1 million refugees have fled.