Hungarian-American billionaire and philanthropist George Soros said he believes civilization might not survive the war in Ukraine if it degenerates into a third world war. His advice to avoid this is a quick and decisive defeat of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Soros warned that open societies are under siege, autocratic regimes are rising and the global economy is headed for a depression. He criticized former German chancellor Angela Merkel for cozying up to Putin and China’s Xi Jinping.
Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24 after the months-long build-up of hundreds of thousands of troops at its border while denying that it planned an actual attack.
“The invasion may have been the beginning of the third world war and our civilization may not survive it,” Soros said at a private dinner on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“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 financier funds liberal charities and nongovernmental organizations worldwide through his Open Society Foundations. Soros is most famous for “breaking the Bank of England” when he bet against the British pound on Sept. 16, 1992, shorting the currency and pocketing $1.1 billion. This earned him a reputation as the premier currency speculator in the world.
Soros noted that the tides turned against open societies after the events around the 9/11 attacks against the U.S.
“Repressive regimes are now in the ascendant and open societies are under siege. Today China and Russia present the greatest threat to open society,” Soros said.
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The pandemic, followed in quick succession by the war in Ukraine, has pushed the fight against climate change to the back burner and could lead to irreversible environmental decay, Soros said.
“While the war rages, the fight against climate change has to take second place. Yet the experts tell us that we have already fallen far behind, and climate change is on the verge of becoming irreversible. That could be the end of our civilization.
“Therefore, 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. That’s the bottom line.”
Photo: A woman looks at a building destroyed by an overnight missile strike in Sloviansk, Ukraine, June 1, 2022. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)