Newsnight: Sanctions expert fears Putin won’t ‘back down’ – ‘There won’t be a ceasefire’

Putin has a 'network' of people in the West says Bill Browder

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Bill Browder, CEO of Hermitage Capital, told BBC Newsnight that he had “personally been at war” with the Russian President for a decade. Mr Browder, who is also head of the Global Magnitsky Justice campaign, added that there “wouldn’t be a ceasefire” in Ukraine as the eastern European nation continues to fight off Russian advances since Russian President Vladimir Putin sent tanks and troops over the border on February 24.

He said: “Knowing what I know about Vladimir Putin, I’ve been personally at war with him for a decade.

“He never backs down, he never compromises and there won’t be a ceasefire.

“And if there is a ceasefire it will be a two week ceasefire. It’s not going to be enough to degrade the consensus that’s been built up.

“He’s always the best advocate for a tough policy on Russia.

“Vladimir Putin will do whatever he has to do to escalate to the point we put sanctions on him.”

BBC Newsnight presenter Mark Urban asked Mr Browder about the decision by the European Union to ban “enablers” western professionals who help Russian businesses or individuals trade in Europe.

He said: “There was another aspect to the EU announcement today wasn’t there? From the commission to do with the so-called enablers.

“Now some of the service industries and professional groups. How do you see that playing out?”

In response, Mr Browder said that it was something that had been a “major problem” for the last “twenty years” but that the ban was “very good news”.

He said: “This is something that has been a major problem for the last twenty years.

“You have all sorts of lobbyists, PR firms, consultants, specialists, accountants who have been helping Russians effectively water down our reaction to Putin’s atrocities.

“He’s done terrible things and you have all sorts of people watering it down.

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“The fact that we’ve recognised this, the fact that these enablers are now banned from doing business with Russians is a very good thing. They’re banned in Europe, they’re banned in the UK.”

Mr Browder’s grandfather Earl Browder was the General Secretary of the Communist Party USA from 1930 to 1945, having spent several years living in the USA and ran for President in 1936 and 1940.

Bill Browder set up Hermitage Capital Management in 1996 specialising in the Russian market but in 2005 he was blacklisted by the Russian government as a “threat to national security”.

One of Hermitage’s tax advisers, Sergei Magnitsky was charged with tax evasion in 2008 and died in prison the following year.

Mr Browder was instrumental in pressuring the Obama administration to pass the Magnitsky Act blacklisting Russian officials involved in the detention of Sergei Magnitsky.

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