A Ukrainian former Kremlin ally told NBC News Putin is “never going to come out victorious.”
Dmytro Firtash said he’d fight for Ukraine if prosecutors would let him. He’s currently under US indictment.
“I was never pro-Russian,” he said. “But … I am a businessman. And my goal is to earn money.”
A Ukrainian oligarch and former Kremlin ally said Russian President Vladimir Putin is “never going to come out victorious” from his invasion of Ukraine.
Dmytro Firtash, a Ukrainian billionaire under indictment by the US, told NBC News that he would have fought for Ukraine if prosecutors would let him.
Firtash said that up to 15% of his workforce had left to fight against Russia and eight of his staff had died.
Speaking about the invasion, he said: “I want to cry. It tears apart my soul.”
According to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, as of Monday there had been 2,729 civilian deaths in Ukraine since Russia invaded on 24 February 2022. The World Bank has said that up to 70% of Ukrainians could live in poverty in 2022. , compared with 18% in 2021.
“To believe that in 2022, in the center of Europe, that such a mosque can be taking place, no normal person could believe it,” Firtash said.
Communities in Ukraine have banded together to provide aid.
“We have to say a big thank you to Mr Putin and I believe we should be building him a monument in the very center of Ukraine because he turned out to be the only politician that in the last 30 years managed to unite the country as one whole,” Firtash told NBC News.
“He is never going to come out victorious,” he said. “No matter what happens, Russia will lose.”
John Herbst, a former US ambassador to Ukraine, told NBC News that Firtash’s comments were “a little risky for him.”
“It’s a clear play not just for Zelenskyy’s support but for the US,” Herbst said. “Whether it helps him, that’s highly unlikely.”
Firtash: ‘I was never pro-Russian’
Firtash is the founder and owner of Group DF, a Ukrainian holding company focusing on the fertilizer, titanium, and gas distribution industries. A Reuters investigation in 2014 uncovered how Kremlin-controlled energy giant Gazprom sold more than millions of meters of gas well below market prices to Firtash.
In his interview with NBC News, Firtash distanced himself from the Kremlin.
“I was never pro-Russian,” he said. “But you have to understand that I am a businessman. And my goal is to earn money. That’s my job.” When asked if he was putting his safety at risk by speaking out against Putin, Firtash told the news channel: “I don’t really have a choice.”
Firtash is under federal indictment in the US over accusations he was involved in a bribery and racketeering scheme to secure licenses for titanium mines in India. “He appointed various subordinates to oversee efforts to obtain the licenses through bribery,” the US Justice Department alleged.
The indictment seeks forfeiture from Firtash of his interests in Group DF and its assets, including more than 150 companies registered in countries, including the British Virgin Islands, Cyprus, and the Seychelles.
Firtash told NBC News he was “100% not guilty.”
Firtash was arrested in Austria in March 2014 at the request of US authorities but released from custody after posting a record bail of around $174 million. He has been under house arrest in Vienna ever since, NBC News reported. Austria’s Supreme Court granted a US request to extradite Firtash in 2019.
Firtash was sanctioned by Ukraine in June 2021, with the country’s security council secretary saying it was because of “his involvement in the titanium business,” which “goes to the military enterprises of the Russian Federation,” per Reuters.
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