Former Russian PM: Ukraine war could last two years

Vladimir Putin was “out of it” when he invaded Ukraine, the Russian president’s former PM said. 

By World News Israel Staff

Former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said the war with Ukraine confirmed his worst nightmares and could last two years, AFP reported on Monday.

Kasyanov, who served as President Vladimir Putin’s first prime minister from 2000 to 2004 and was an advocate of a robust Russian-West relationship, said he never believed Putin would launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

According to the report, the penny only dropped when Putin summoned his security council days before the February 24 invasion.

“When I saw the meeting of Russia’s Security Council I realized, yes, there will be a war,” Kasyanov said.

But he added that Russia could still return to a democratic path.

By the time of the meeting, which Kasyanov chalked up to theatrics on Putin’s part, the Russian president was not thinking clearly, Kasyanov said.

“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 Putin, a former KGB agent, has turned Russia into “a KGB system based on complete lawlessness.”

“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,” he said. “It is clear that they do not expect any punishment.”

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Over the past two decades, Putin has built a system based on impunity and fear, Kasyanov said.

After being fired by Putin, Kasyanov joined Russia’s opposition and is now the remote leader of the opposition People’s Freedom party, or Parnas. Kasyanov said he fled Russia after the war broke out and was living in a secret location in Europe.

Kasyanov said a Ukrainian victory was paramount and would determine Russia’s future. He also called on Ukraine not to cede territory.

“If Ukraine falls, the Baltic states will be next,” he said.

Kasyanov said he “categorically” disagreed with French President Emmanuel Macron’s notion that Putin should not be humiliated.

According to Kasyanov, Putin will eventually be succeeded by someone controlled by the security services who in turn will be replaced by someone who is elected in fair and democratic elections.

“I am certain that Russia will return to the path of building a democratic state,” he said, but such a process could take about a decade, he surmised.

“This will be difficult, especially after this criminal war,” he said, adding that trust building with Russia’s “natural partners” in the West would take years.

“Everything will have to be rebuilt anew. Essentially, an entire set of economic and social reforms should be started all over again.”