Bill Prouder on Russia’s war on Ukraine: ‘It’s not over’

“It’s not going to end – it will continue and will continue,” Broder, who heads the Global Magnitsky justice campaign, told Politico.

“Vladimir Putin is not going to back down, the Ukrainians are not going to give up their country. This war, unfortunately, will be a protracted war in which many more atrocities will take place, and Russia will be more isolated than it already is in the international community.

The founder and CEO of Hermitage Capital Management has a deep knowledge of how the President and Putin’s Russia operate.

Broder, who worked to expose corruption in Russia, knows how to be on Putin’s bad side. This week, he will publish a book entitled “The Freezing Order” in which he describes how he helped expose Putin’s campaign to steal and clean up hundreds of billions of dollars and what happened next.

Broder gained prominence in the name of his friend Sergei Magnitsky through global efforts to persuade governments to pass penal law. A Moscow lawyer has been tortured and killed in a Russian prison in 2009 after revealing a massive tax-corruption scheme.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Browder has been busy sharing his deep knowledge of Russia.

Broder said governments have sought his advice on who should be allowed around Putin, how to find the money and where to find the holes.

“As I have been with the US government and the British government, I have had extensive discussions with top Canadian government officials on how to react to this,” Prouder said in an interview.

“I do not want to betray trust, but I can say that I have been thinking about these issues for more than a decade. A lot of these governments have been thinking about them for a month.

His thoughts on Putin, the response of Western democracies and Canadian Deputy Prime Minister Christiaan Freeland, are well known to him from his days in Moscow many years ago.

This transcript was edited for length and clarity.

What have you learned about Putin over the years and what is your opinion of the West’s response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine?

For 20 years, Western nations have been blindsided by Putin’s crimes. This is not the first time Putin has illegally seized or attempted to overthrow a sovereign state. He did so in Georgia in 2008, he did in Crimea in 2014, and then he did in eastern Ukraine. This is not the first time he has killed innocent civilians. He did it in Syria, he did it in Ukraine, he did massacres all over the world. We are effectively – the West – blindfolded and produce no consequences. In a certain way, we have encouraged him to do what he has done now, which is far worse than anything he has done before.

Having said this, I think the reaction of the West is now relevant, appropriate and powerful. Sanctions are something I can’t even imagine what the West is doing. They are not perfect, but I think they are powerful, where they are, even this time.

How will the West’s response have a strong impact on Putin?

Of the Russian banks still allowed to operate, only 70 percent are disconnected from SWIFT. [The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication] – and we must disconnect 100 percent from SWIFT.

Of the permitted oligarchy groups, there are 118 on the Forbes list, of which only 12 are licensed. Permission must be granted for more than 100 of them. And most importantly – it’s the elephant in the room – we do these barriers, the West – I’m mostly talking about Europe – still sending billions of dollars a day to Russia in the form of payments. Oil and gas. And it must be stopped.

Why did the West stop short of answering?

There are people who are economically backward because 100 per cent banks are allowed and all oligarchy is allowed, so it needs even more political will. But I am 100 percent sure that they will all be allowed, because Putin is creating this political will by his own brutal act.

You have been following Putin closely for a long time. Why is he invading Ukraine?

The reason he is doing this is not because NATO … (or) Ukraine joins the European Union. He does this because he needs a war to be popular and in power. He has been a dictator for 22 years and he stole a lot of money from the Russian people. So this is the only way he can stay in power.

How much do you think about misinformation and misinformation when it comes to Russia’s war on Ukraine?

There are two types of wars going on right now – a military war and an information war. The Russians are the best in the information war. This does not require large-scale organized troops and military equipment. This requires only a relatively small investment. I have been the biggest victim to their information war, it can be very harmful and it can have all sorts of bad consequences.

How can the West face Putin’s information war?

The West has done a beautiful job in this war. The United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom had repeatedly said every day for two months before the invasion that Russia was going to invade. So, at a time when the Russians began to spread their misinformation to justify their invasion, a lot of Russian amnesty countries basically did not use those arguments because they are not credible and I would call this good news. The strategy of the allies at this time.

What else can be done to put pressure on countries that are inclined to support Russia or on neutral countries?

There is still a lot to do. There are some countries like UAE, Saudi Arabia, Mexico, Brazil, they are not very powerful, we have more influence there. We must use it not to support Russia and to join the civilized world. It does not make sense, for example, why South Africa does this. If they want to do this, there has to be a price to pay.

And how about China?

We have no influence over China. They are the superpower. But, for example, the world has an influence on consumers. If we support the war in Ukraine we can all stop buying Chinese goods.

How do oligarchy fit into the picture?

Selfish groups are not powerful in their own right. Basically, they were before Putin. But now their role is basically to provide financial assistance to Putin – to take care of the money for him and to take financial action as he directs. So they are effectively Vladimir Putin’s financial arm. They are his financial alternative ego, so when talking about allowing Putin, they should also talk about allowing oligarchy.

Has become freeland Proud to have led the international drive to allow the Central Bank of Russia. He is a former journalist you know from the time you were in Moscow. What do you remember about her during your days in Russia?

When I was a finance manager in Moscow, I was exposed to all sorts of corruption by oligarchs who held a majority stake in the companies I invested in. [Financial Times] The head of the bureau and I tried to get different journalists to write about these scams. Most journalists were very scared. But she was only brave enough to go out and expose Vladimir Botan, one of Russia’s largest oligarchs at the time, in a major conflict in which I was involved.

His attempts to steal large sums of money failed because she exposed him. This led me to work as an anti-corruption activist, and I saw that I could work with the media to do things like this. It empowered me and empowered other journalists. He was a true leader, even when he was a journalist.

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