Billionaire investor George Soros has called on European officials to urgently boost their efforts to support the Ukrainian economy, to help contend with the threat posed by Russia to the European economy.
Soros, who is Hungarian by birth, stated that Europe needs to "wake up" and recognize that it is under attack from Russia, and argues that Ukraine's economy is more important to the bloc than the current political uncertainty being faced in member countries like Greece, in a new essay in the New York Review of Books this week.
"(There is) an urgent need to reorient the current policies of the European Union toward Russia and Ukraine. I have been arguing for a two-pronged approach that balances the sanctions against Russia with assistance for Ukraine on a much larger scale. This rebalancing needs to be carried out in the first quarter of 2015," he wrote in the essay, which was formally published late Wednesday.
Ukraine has been thrown into turmoil after anti-government and pro-EU protests at the start of 2014 led to a change of leadership. Running battles in the streets of Kiev turned into military conflicts on the eastern border, with Moscow being accused of aiding pro-Kremlin rebels in the region. Russia decided to annex the southern Ukrainian area of Crimea back in March 2014 and, as a result, has faced tough economic sanctions from Western nations.
These sanctions have left their mark, alongside a dramatic fall in the price of oil which Russia remains heavily reliant on for revenues. Moscow officials are now predicting that the recession for Russia this year could mean growth contracting by around 4 or 5 percent. The Russian ruble has depreciated around 85 percent against the dollar since the start of 2014 while the Ukrainian hyrvnia has lost 92 percent since the same date.
Soros argued that the damage done to Russia has been faster and deeper than anyone could have expected and added that it would not be surprising if the crisis ended up with a default for the country.