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US billionaire George Soros warned Tuesday that “civilization may not survive” Russia’s invasion of Ukraine however mentioned Europe might have a stronger place in opposition to President Vladimir Putin concerning fuel than it realises.

In his conventional dinner speech on the sidelines of the World Financial Discussion board within the Swiss mountain city of Davos, the Hungarian-born investor and philanthropist mentioned the struggle has “shaken Europe to its core.”

“The invasion may have been the beginning of the Third World War and our civilization may not survive it,” Soros mentioned.

“We must mobilise 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 mentioned.

He praised US and European help for Ukraine however Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels “remains excessive,” Soros mentioned.

He mentioned this dependence was “due largely to the mercantilist policies pursued by former (German) chancellor Angela Merkel” who made “special deals” with Moscow for fuel provides.

The European Union is now aiming to scale back its use of Russian fuel by two-thirds this 12 months, however it has fallen wanting banning imports as a consequence of German reluctance.

The EU has additionally struggled to agree on an oil ban as a consequence of 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 mentioned.

“He’s actually in a crisis and he has managed somehow to terrify Europe,” he mentioned.

He mentioned Putin put fuel in storage final 12 months as an alternative of exporting it to Europe, making a scarcity that raised costs and made Russia “a lot of money.”

However storage amenities will probably be full in July and Russia has no different place to ship the fuel than Europe as it’s its solely market, he mentioned.

Soros mentioned he had defined this in a latest letter to Italian President Mario Draghi, however he has but to obtain a reply.

Putin is “in a tight situation. He has to do something with that gas,” Soros mentioned. “Europe has a much stronger position than it recognises.”

– Xi and Putin: the ‘dictators’ –

Soros’s dinner is among the many most eagerly awaited occasions of the gathering of world enterprise and political elites in Davos, however it final befell in January 2020 because the Covid pandemic thwarted final 12 months’s confab.

Soros, the founding father of the Open Society Foundations, used this 12 months’s speech to take goal once more at one other regular goal, Chinese language President Xi Jinping.

He referred to as Xi and Putin “dictators” whose nations characterize “the biggest threat to open society”.

“They are tied together in an alliance that has no limits. They also have a lot in common. They rule by intimidation, and as a consequence they make mind-boggling mistakes,” Soros mentioned.

“Putin expected to be welcomed in Ukraine as a liberator. Xi Jinping is sticking to a zero-Covid policy that can’t possibly be sustained,” he mentioned, referring to China’s strict lockdowns to include coronavirus outbreaks.

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