Alexander Solzhenitsyn has accused the United States of launching a military campaign to encircle Russia and turn it into a NATO chattel.

The Nobel laureate also delivered his strongest endorsement yet of President Vladimir Putin, surprising Kremlin critics who argue that the country is growing more authoritarian.

Replying in writing to questions from the weekly Moscow News, the 87-year-old former Soviet dissident said military action by the United States in the Balkans, Iraq and Afghanistan underlined the menace to Russian sovereignty.

“Though it is clear that present-day Russia poses no threat to it whatsoever, NATO is methodically and persistently expanding its military apparatus in the east of Europe and is implementing an encirclement of Russia from the south,” he wrote.

He also attacked Western support for recent revolutions that toppled Moscow-backed regimes in Ukraine and Georgia.

“All this leaves no doubt that they are preparing a complete encirclement of Russia, which will be followed by the deprivation of her sovereignty,” he said.

Russia, he suggested, was all that stood between NATO and the “downfall of Christian civilization.” ~The Washington Times