George Soros has called for $50 billion dollars of international aid in response to Ukraine’s acute financial crisis. For Soros, the case for taking drastic economic action is not only about Ukraine; it’s also an investment in the future security of the entire European project:
By enabling Ukraine to defend itself, Europe would be indirectly also defending itself. Moreover, an injection of financial assistance to Ukraine would help stabilize its economy and indirectly also provide a much-needed stimulus to the European economy by encouraging exports and investment in Ukraine.
Of course, money alone won’t help Ukraine—the Ukrainian economic system has run on bribery, kickbacks, and corruption for a long time, and plenty of powerful forces don’t want that to change. Soros’s proposal accounts for this by advising that the money be tied to reform so that it doesn’t go straight into Ukrainian officials’ pockets:
That is where the European authorities could play a decisive role. By offering financial and technical assistance commensurate with the magnitude of the reforms, they [the European authorities] could exert influence on the Ukrainian government to embark on radical reforms and give them a chance to succeed.
The entire plan, published in the New York Review of Books, is designed to have the greatest benefit to Ukraine at the smallest cost to Europe. Soros may be Ukraine’s most ambitious backer, but he is not the only one trying to whip up a European consensus to ensure Ukraine comes out of the current crisis on its feet. Today, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker proposed a third round of European aid amounting to $1.8 billion. Germany also offered half a billion euros worth of credit guarantees to Ukraine today.If the West is going to help Kiev weather the perfect storm it is presently facing, it will take both smart strategy and serious commitment. That can only be achieved if people like George Soros can create a consensus that the failure of Ukraine carries a high cost that will be felt well beyond the country’s borders.