Monday 28 March 2022
For this Putin’s enemy, it was time for Europe to wake up
Alexander Temerko, who has been exiled in London for 20 years, is relentlessly fighting Vladimir Putin. According to him, the Russian president has no limits and would be capable of attacking Poland. The Ukrainian Alexander Temerko is a former shareholder and manager of the Russian gas company Yukos. A close associate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, he has been in exile in London for the past twenty years. He is a celebrity across the Channel, where he notably finances Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party. He runs the Aquind Interconnector company which imports French electricity to the UK.
Challenges: Were you surprised by the invasion of Ukraine?
Alexander Temerko. War is an unpredictable process. And Vladimir Putin is a paranoid. The Ukrainian army proved to be one of the best in Europe, and the Russians understood that they were not dealing with “mickeys”. The Ukrainians are strong, they are fighting for democracy, for all of Europe. Beware, Putin is capable of everything, including attacking Poland. But I am confident that Ukraine will win and will be part of NATO next year.
What is your relationship with Vladimir Putin?
I am fighting against him. Putinism, a mafia state that is ruining Russia, must be stopped. I have long supported those who oppose him, including Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who has spent a lot of time in prison.
Are you afraid for your life?
I believe in God. He will decide when my time comes. I have never been afraid.
What do you think of Europe’s attitude?
Europe has been so silent for so long… Europe has become dependent on Russia in a context of false stability. That period is over, and now we have to deal with chaos. A world is collapsing. Consider that the UK has frozen its investments in the North Sea to import gas from Russia. The most sensible country in recent times has been France, with the revival of the nuclear programme. Ukraine has awakened consciences. Emmanuel Macron is right to make building a European defence a priority. The United Kingdom must be part of it. Together with France, these two countries have a larger military budget than Russia. In any case, we should welcome the European awakening.
What impact will this war have on energy prices?
In the UK, electricity prices are regulated every six months, so the next update in April will be impressive. We could see tariffs double. This will have a huge impact on the British people. It is vital that Europe can pool its energy resources. France, with its nuclear reactors, will have a key role. And the UK is an important market. Ukraine has united our governments, let them work together on a credible energy alternative.
What about the attitude of the oil majors?
I will only comment on the case of BP, which I know well. They have compromised a lot in the past. The boss and the financial director sat on the board of Rosneft, a ridiculous and dangerous strategy. If they have cut ties now, it is at the behest of the British and American governments. Generally speaking, it is up to politicians to take a stand on these questions of presence, or not, in Russia.