The U.S and its Western allies fail to understand that from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s perspective, they are already at war with Russia, said Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the exiled former head of Yukos Oil Co. who was once the country’s richest person.

With the U.S. and major powers ramping up sanctions on Moscow, supplying weapons to Kyiv, and training Ukraine’s military, Putin views his nation as essentially being at war with America and Europe on Ukrainian soil, Khodorkovsky said in an interview in Washington.

Western arguments drawing a hard line between conflict on Ukrainian land and the spread of war into NATO members’ territory are a nuance that means little to Putin, said Khodorkovsky, whose falling out with the Russian leader in the early 2000s led to him spending nearly a decade in prison before going into exile.