The European Union is facing several divisive crises, financier George Soros says in an essay for The New York Review of Books, but the threat that's being posed by Russian aggression toward Ukraine should be treated as the most urgent, as solving that issue could unify the EU.
"The new Ukraine is the most valuable asset that Europe has," Soros says in the essay
, which will be published on Oct. 8. "Losing it would cause irreparable harm: it could create a failed state of more than 40 million people and become another source of refugees. But by helping the new Ukraine, the European Union could save itself."
The EU's four internal crises, including the Euros financial difficulty, Greece's bankruptcy, the rapid growth of refugee migration and the British referendum over EU membership, and the external one concerning Ukraine, and they all "reinforce each other" and overwhelm the authorities, said Soros.
All the issues can't be solved at the same time, said Soros, but he has "been strenuously arguing that Ukraine should be given top priority" as the internal crises could "divide the European Union into debtor and creditor countries."
Also, ignoring the issue could put Europe in danger of "turning the new Ukraine back into the old Ukraine," said Soros, which would be "a fatal mistake because the new Ukraine is one of the most valuable assets that Europe has, both for resisting Russian aggression and for recapturing the spirit of solidarity that characterized the European Union in its early days."
Earlier this year, Soros pointed out, he developed his "winning strategy for Ukraine," arguing that sanctions against Russia are "necessary but not sufficient."
"My 'winning strategy' advocates effective financial assistance to Ukraine, which would combine large-scale budgetary support with affordable political risk insurance," said Soros, as well as private sector incentives, which turn Ukraine into an "attractive place for investment."
By combining sanctions against Russia with assistance for the new Ukraine, said Soros, it would also negate Russian President Vladimir Putin's propaganda that his country's economic and political problems are caused by Ukraine.
Putin could, Soros admitted, launch a large-scale military offensive, which would violate the Minsk II agreement reached on Feb. 11, but "that would be a political defeat for Putin."
Meanwhile, said Soros, European authorities under German leadership have mishandled the Greek financial crisis, and and authorities are making a large mistake in treating Ukraine in the same way Greece was handled.
"The new Ukraine seeks to be the opposite of Greece and, although it is not a member, it is actively defending the European Union against a military and political threat from Russia," writes Soros.
But helping Ukraine, Soros argues, the EU could see its other priorities fall into place while rebuffing "the Russian menace."
Russia will always be stronger than Ukraine militarily, said Soros, so it likely won't regain its "territorial integrity," but still could maintain its "moral and political integrity," which is more important.
"The new Ukraine is eager to undertake radical economic and political reforms," Soros writes. "It has a large population and a battle-tested army willing to defend the European Union by defending itself."
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