Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said on Monday that Moscow's forces had committed war crimes in Ukraine and he accused President Vladimir Putin of destroying Russia's future for the sake of his own personal ambition.
In a post on social media ahead of the first anniversary of the Ukraine invasion on Feb. 24, Navalny said Russia had hit “rock bottom” and could only recover once the “Putin dictatorship” had been dismantled and Moscow started to “reimburse” Kyiv for the damage inflicted during the war.
“Tens of thousands of innocent Ukrainians have been murdered and pain and suffering have befallen millions more. War crimes have been committed,” Navalny said via a Twitter feed maintained by his associates, in which he also called for an international investigation into allegations of atrocities.
Navalny, 46, is serving an 11-1/2 year prison sentence in Russia on fraud charges that are widely recognized as political retribution for his years spent railing against the Kremlin.
He has continued to speak out against Putin from jail. This month he said he had been moved to a harsher “cell-type” regime of solitary confinement for the next six months where he would be denied visits.
“The real reasons for this war are the political and economic problems within Russia, Putin's desire to hold on to power at any cost, and his obsession with his own historical legacy. He wants to go down in history as 'the conqueror tsar'...,” Navalny said in Monday's tweets.
He said Russia's defeat on the battlefield was “inevitable”, and that Moscow had to withdraw its troops from Ukraine and recognize its borders as they were set in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union.
That would include the annexed peninsula of Crimea - though Navalny, who has been criticized in the past over ambiguous statements regarding his position on Moscow's 2014 annexation, did not explicitly mention Crimea in his posts.
Navalny said Russia owed Ukraine reparations, suggesting they could come out of Moscow's energy exports in a future post-war scenario, and he lambasted Putin for “destroying” Russia's own future “just to make our country look bigger on the map”.
“We have hit rock bottom,” Navalny said. “We need to dismantle the Putin regime and its dictatorship.”
The Kremlin has banned Navalny's organizations and has escalated a campaign against critics of what it calls its “special military operation” in Ukraine, arresting many Navalny associates, among others, on grounds of national security.
In 2020, while campaigning in Siberia, Navalny was poisoned with what European chemical weapons experts said was a nerve agent in an apparent state-sponsored assassination attempt. Moscow has denied trying to kill Navalny.