Russian aluminum billionaire Deripaska warns of long war in Ukraine

Russian tycoon Oleg Deripaska speaks to media in front of the office of Gorkovsky Automobile Plant (GAZ) in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia April 16, 2019. REUTERS / Maxim Shemetov / File Photo

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LONDON, March 27 (Reuters) – Russian aluminum tycoon Oleg Deripaska said on Sunday that US President Joe Biden’s speech in Warsaw indicated that some sort of “hellish ideological mobilization” was underway that may usher in a long conflict in Ukraine.

Deripaska, the founder of Russian aluminum giant Rusal (RUAL.MM) who has previously called for peace, said his personal opinion was that the conflict in Ukraine was “madness” which would bring shame on generations to come.

Deripaska, who has been sanctioned by the United States and Britain, did not assign explicit blame for the conflict but said both the United States and Russia had sharpened their rhetoric.

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Deripaska said he had hoped that the conflict could have ended weeks ago but that Biden’s speech – in which the US president spoke about a much broader conflict between democracy and autocracy – indicated it could last much longer. read more

“Now some sort of hellish ideological mobilization is underway from all sides,” Deripaska said on Telegram. “That’s it: these people are preparing to fight for a few years more.”

“It appears all sides are recklessly gearing for a long-term war that will have tragic consequences for the entire world.”

The United States in 2018 imposed sanctions on Deripaska and other influential Russians because it said they were profiting from a Russian state engaged in “malignant activities” around the world.

The sanctions, an attempt to punish Moscow for alleged meddling in the 2016 US election, were “groundless, ridiculous and absurd”, Deripaska said at the time.

Since the Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Deripaska has been sanctioned by Britain for his alleged ties to President Vladimir Putin. He has said it will be for the courts to decide the fate of the sanctions.

Putin has said Russia’s “special military operation” in Ukraine was necessary because the United States was using the country to threaten Russia and Moscow had to defend against the persecution of Russian speakers by Ukraine. Ukraine has dismissed the claims of persecution as a baseless pretext for invading.

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Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge Editing by William Maclean and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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