Alex Konanykhin left Russia in 1992 and seven years later became the first Russian citizen to be granted political asylum in the United States from post-Soviet Russia. Earlier this month, the businessman announced via social media he is offering a reward of $1 million for the arrest of Putin. He told Express.co.uk his motives for doing this were because he does not want to be “confused for most Russians who either actively supported or are silently complicit in Putin’s war against Ukraine”. Mr Konanykhin’s social media post received millions of likes and huge media attention.
The Russian defector has been warning of the dangers of the Putin regime for many years and in 2014 started a petition calling on the White House to designate Russia as a “State Sponsor of Terrorism”.
Mr Konanykhin said he believes that the conflict in Ukraine escalating to nuclear war is “not as unlikely as we would like to think”.
To date, the only use of nuclear weapons during the conflict was in 1945 when the US dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, three weeks ago Putin said that he was moving his nuclear weapons to “combat ready” status.
This has raised concerns that the Kremlin could use “tactical” nuclear weapons.
The defector added that the West’s fear of a global war is exactly why Putin invaded Ukraine in the first place – because he thought that Western countries would be too scared to intervene.
However, he added that the West’s decision to send military equipment to help Ukraine and to impose sanctions on Russia is because Western leaders recognise that “risks created by inaction are significantly greater than the risk of action.”
Mr Konanykin said that the use of nuclear weapons will not be an “easy decision for Putin”.
However, he added: “If the only other scenario for Putin is losing power, freedom and possibly his life he will absolutely, with no hesitation use nuclear weapons on Ukraine.”