Soros: Ukraine Allies Must Do “Whatever It Takes”

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In the most recent issue of The New York Review of Books, billionaire and liberal political activist George Soros presents his bona fides and lays out a case for much greater support of Ukraine by Europe and the U.S.

Soros notes: “There is a new Ukraine that is determined to become the opposite of the old Ukraine. The old Ukraine had much in common with the old Greece that proved so difficult to reform: an economy that was dominated by oligarchs and a political class that exploited its position for private gain instead of serving the public. The new Ukraine, by contrast, is inspired by the spirit of the Maidan revolution in February 2014 and seeks to radically reform the country. By treating Ukraine like a second-class Greece that is not even a member of the European Union, Europe is in danger of turning the new Ukraine back into the old Ukraine.”

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George Soros’ “winning strategy” for Ukraine

According to Soros, a “winning strategy” for the West in Ukraine requires “effective financial assistance”. This means both major budgetary support with affordable political risk insurance, and incentives for the private sector. He argues that together with the notable economic and political reforms that the new Ukraine is trying to implement, real financial support and tailored incentives would make Ukraine attractive for international investment.

Soros highlights that the key to economic reforms in Ukraine is the restructuring of the state gas company Naftogaz, and transitioning from government-supported very low prices for gas to market pricing and providing subsidies for gas purchases to indigent households.

He says “Political reform in Ukraine means establishing “an honest, independent, and competent judiciary and media, combating corruption, and making the civil service serve the people instead of exploiting them.” Keep in mind that these kinds of reforms would also appeal to many people in Russia, who would then be likely to demand similar reforms. Soros says that is exactly what Putin is afraid of and why he has worked so hard to destabilize the new Ukraine.

He goes on to argue that the EU needs to rethink its position on Ukraine, and that major financial support for the country should really be treated as a defense expenditure. Soros argues that the current €3.4 billion contribution from the European Union to the IMF rescue package for Ukraine is clearly insufficient. He points out that the EU already ha