Multibillionaire investor George Soros has issued a warning to Europe’s democracies over the threat that a resurgent Russia poses to the continent.
In an essay published Thursday in the New York Review of Books, Soros calls for more economic and military support for Ukraine, as well as the abandonment of the eurozone’s current austerity programs.
Here are his opening few lines [emphasis added]:
Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it. I attribute this mainly to the fact that the European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008.
The fiscal rules that currently prevail in Europe have aroused a lot of popular resentment. Anti-Europe parties captured nearly 30 percent of the seats in the latest elections for the European Parliament but they had no realistic alternative to the EU to point to until recently. Now Russia is presenting an alternative that poses a fundamental challenge to the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. It is based on the use of force that manifests itself in repression at home and aggression abroad, as opposed to the rule of law.
What is shocking is that Vladimir Putin’s Russia has proved to be in some ways superior to the European Union — more flexible and constantly springing surprises. That has given it a tactical advantage, at least in the near term.
Soros is probably a better authority than most to talk about the threat from a divided Europe. In 1944, Soros was 13 years old and living in Hungary when Germany invaded. He goes on:
It is high time for the members of the European Union to wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war. They are better off helping Ukraine to defend itself than having to fight for themselves. One way or another, the internal contradiction between being at war and remaining committed to fiscal austerity has to be eliminated. Where there is a will, there is a way.
He ends on a call for the EU to be more “united, flexible, and efficient”:
There must be something wrong with the EU if Putin’s Russia can be so successful even in the short term. The bureaucracy of the EU no longer has a monopoly of power and it has little to be proud of. It should learn to be more united, flexible, and efficient. And Europeans themselves need to take a close look at the new Ukraine. That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union. The European Union would save itself by saving Ukraine.