On Tuesday, US billionaire George Soros cautioned that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine threatens to be the “beginning of the third world war” that could spell the end of civilization.
The veteran philanthropist and former financier launched a ferocious attack on Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos. He also heavily criticized the former German chancellor Angela Merkel for cozying up to Moscow and Beijing.
Soros warned that autocratic regimes were rising in influence and power and the global economy was heading for a depression.
Invasion of Ukraine possibly the beginning of a third world war
“The invasion may have been the beginning of the third world war and our civilization may not survive it,” Soros said.
“The invasion of Ukraine didn’t come out of the blue. The world has been increasingly engaged in a struggle between two systems of governance that are diametrically opposed to each other: open society and closed society,” the Hungarian-born investor announced.
Soros: We must defeat Putin immediately
“We must mobilize all our resources to bring the war to an early end. The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin as soon as possible,” he said.
He praised US and European support for Ukraine but Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels “remains excessive,” Soros said.
The European Union aims to reduce its use of Russian gas by two-thirds this year, but it has fallen short of banning imports as some nations, most notably Germany, are heavily reliant on Moscow’s exports.
The EU has also struggled to agree on an oil ban due to Hungary’s opposition.
“I think Putin has been very clever in sort of blackmailing Europe, threatening to cut off the gas, but actually his case is much less strong than he pretends,” Soros said.
“He’s actually in a crisis and he has managed somehow to terrify Europe,” he added.
He also brought to light that Putin put gas in storage last year instead of exporting it to Europe, creating a shortage that raised prices and made Russia “a lot of money.”
However, storage facilities will be at full capacity in July, and Russia has no alternative place to ship the gas, as Europe is its only market, Soros said.