Opinion

The West is repeating with Russia the same mistakes it made with Hitler

The West is repeating with Russia the same mistakes it made with Hitler
Leaders of Western powers are making the same mistakes with Russian President Vladimir Putin that their predecessors made with Hitler, says former Russian oil oligarch and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

Khodorkovsky - once Russia's richest man - spent more than a decade in prison for tax evasion and fraud following a crackdown he said was part of a Kremlin campaign to oust him. He now lives in exile.

For CNN, Khodorkovsky said he sees parallels between the situation in Ukraine today and the direction of World War II.

"Western leaders said they were afraid of worsening the situation with Hitler and thought well, if you are not showing any resistance, eventually he will stop at some point," he said. "However, that mistake has cost hundreds of millions of lives. Hundreds of millions of lives have been lost and the same mistake is being made now."

NATO is not ready to get directly involved in the war beyond supporting the Ukrainian resistance as this action on its part could escalate the conflict.

"Russia's level of unpreparedness has come as a big surprise to me," Khodorkovsky added.

This comes after US officials said the Russian military is suffering from food and fuel shortages, from logistical and support problems.

Asked if the Russian oligarchs deserved to be sanctioned by the West, Khodorkovsky replied that although it was "foolish" to think that they had any real influence on Putin, those who continue to support the Russian leader are "dangerous."

"The oligarchs are not real oligarchs in the sense that they do not actually influence Putin. Yet they are his instruments, and to really understand who has broken off relations with Putin one has to look at when they denounce him and when they admit that "He is a war criminal. And if that does not happen, it means they are still dependent on him and they are still dangerous."