Billionaire says Germany has a ‘heavy price to pay’ for its economic ties to Russia
24 May 2022
George Soros has warned that the conflict in Ukraine could spiral into a Third World War that ends western civilisation.
Mr Soros, the billionaire investor and advocate of European integration, said that the conflict had “shaken Europe to its core” in a speech to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“The invasion may have been the beginning of the Third World War and our civilisation may not survive it,” he said.
The 91-year-old also said that Germany has a “heavy price to pay” for its economic ties to Russia and China.
In an attack on the legacy of former Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mr Soros said the German economy faces a lengthy reorientation to reduce its reliance on anti-democratic countries.
“Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels remains excessive, due largely to the mercantilist policies pursued by former Chancellor Angela Merkel,” he said.
It came as Ukraine on Tuesday called for Royal Navy warships to be dispatched to the Black Sea to help break the Russian blockade of Odesa amid growing fears of global food shortages.
Vadym Prystaiko, Ukraine’s ambassador to Britain, said President Volodymyr Zelensky was “working with your government” to reopen the country’s ports and export millions of tons of grain to the crisis.
He told TalkTV there was an ongoing “conversation” over whether British warships could be used.
The Telegraph understands there have been “ferocious discussions” in London over what assistance Britain can offer to help get grain out of Ukraine.
But Government sources on Tuesday played down the prospect of Britain’s naval vessels being deployed off the coast of Ukraine in the future.
A Downing Street spokesman said there are “no current plans to send UK warships to the Black Sea.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s grip on its eastern Donbas region was slipping as resistance appeared to falter against Russians intensified operations in the area.
There were fears for the fate of the Ukrainian troops defending the key city of Severodonetsk, which is at imminent risk of encirclement.
Also at Davos on Tuesday, Nato’s secretary general warned European countries that it is “wrong” and “dangerous” to carry on buying billions of euros of oil and gas from Russia.
Jens Stoltenberg said fossil fuel imports give Putin a “tool to intimidate and to use against us”.
Mr Stoltenberg said that “freedom is more important than free trade, and protecting values is more important than profits”.
The comments will be interpreted as a stark warning ahead of Olaf Scholz’s address to the global elite on Thursday amid criticism of the German Chancellor’s resistance to cut energy ties.
Mr Soros, in his comments, warned the continent would struggle to wean itself off the Kremlin’s oil and gas supplies.
He said: ”Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels remains excessive, due largely to the mercantilist policies pursued by former Chancellor Angela Merkel. She had made special deals with Russia for the supply of gas and made China Germany’s largest export market. That made Germany the best performing economy in Europe but now there is a heavy price to pay.”