Cities will “end in coffins” if Putin adds urban conscripts

  • Exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky said Putin’s conscription in Ukraine could backfire.
  • He said “big cities will end in coffins” if Putin recruits soldiers from urban areas.
  • The Russian government has admitted sending young conscripts to fight in Ukraine.

Exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky said Russian President Vladimir Putin could face massive political backlash if he continued sending large numbers of conscripts from major Russian cities to fight in Ukraine.

During an interview with the atlantic council, Khodorkovsky pondered whether he believed Putin would send fresh waves of conscripts to Ukraine after NATO estimated that 7,000 to 15,000 Russian soldiers had been killed in the war so far.

He said the scenario is possible and “the value of human life in Russia is not as high as one would like”.

“Especially when we talk about people living in the North Caucasus, or people living in tiny villages and settlements,” Khodorkovsky said. “Knowing this, Putin picks up his soldiers specifically from these places. And he pays such money for her death and forces her close relatives to shut up.”

On March 9, after weeks of denials, the Russian government admitted that it had sent young conscripts to Ukraine. Khodorkovsky was asked about the possibility of Putin sending 100,000 to 200,000 more conscripts to Ukraine, which he said would be an “extremely difficult” political decision for the Russian president.

“There is no doubt that such a step, if forced on Putin, will be extremely difficult for him politically. And even more, he could call a million people, but then big cities will end up in coffins, ”Khodorkovsky said. “Big cities where public opinion about the value of human life is completely different, and for Putin that would be a massive problem on the eve of a 2024 transition to power.”

Formerly a Russian-based oil tycoon, Khodorkovsky was jailed by Putin’s government in 2003 after being charged with financial crimes. During the nine years he was imprisoned, he claimed to have been imprisoned on political grounds. Since his release in 2013, Khodorkovsky has been an active member of the Russian opposition in exile.

In the interview, he reiterated his belief that Putin believed he was “at war with the United States and NATO.”

In March, the United Nations said at least 1,119 civilians had been killed in Russia’s war against Ukraine. NATO has estimated that between 7,000 and 15,000 Russian soldiers died over the course of the war, while Russia claims 1,351 of its soldiers were killed.

In his latest update on troop deaths on March 12, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said 1,300 Ukrainian soldiers had died in the war.

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