Alexander Temerko said the Russian president is behaving ‘like a collector of land’.
02 March 2022
Vladimir Putin may be “insane and an idiot” but he is “not Dr Evil”, a major Tory donor born in the former Soviet Union has said.
Alexander Temerko, an energy tycoon who held roles in the Russian defence ministry in the 1990s, joined a number of people in questioning the Russian president’s mental state after the invasion of Ukraine.
The Ukrainian-born British citizen said Mr Putin is behaving “like a collector of land” as he “tries to restore the Soviet Union”.
“He doesn’t understand, deeply, profoundly, doesn’t understand what Ukraine now is,” the industrialist told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme.
Mr Temerko dismissed a comparison with the fictional supervillain from the Austin Powers films when asked if the Russian president is like a James Bond villain who could launch nuclear weapons to save himself.
He said: “Sorry, he is insane and an idiot but not Dr Evil. He is an old man who is not well, probably, and not well mentally.”
But Mr Temerko, who has given more than £730,000 to the Tories, warned that Mr Putin is “ready to escalate the situation more and more”.
The businessman behind a proposed £1.2 billion cross-Channel power project is planning to fight the Government over its decision to block the plans.
Aquind, part-owned by Russian-born former oil tycoon Victor Fedotov, has donated at least £430,000 to the Tory party and MPs.
Mr Temerko said there is a need to punish oligarchs who worked with Mr Putin and state companies, arguing that only the Ukrainian army and its people, as well as the solidarity of democratic nations, can stand in Mr Putin’s way.
“When we’re looking for properties of oligarchs, that’s effective, but Russian oligarchs are billionaires. Property here is maybe £10 million, £20 million, maybe £100 million. For them it’s not big damage, to be honest,” he said.
“But we need to do that, absolutely, because we need to do it for solidarity with Ukraine.”
Many in the West have questioned Mr Putin’s mindset over the invasion, which is straining his leadership as Russia and its oligarchs are hit with severe sanctions.
Once seen as outwardly calm if not reckless in his actions, he became increasingly withdrawn during the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent days he has rambled on television about Ukraine, sharing baseless claims that “druggies and neo-Nazis” are holding Ukrainians hostage in the capital of Kyiv.
UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace last week described Mr Putin as having “gone full tonto”.