It is needless to remind that Europe is currently living through one of its most difficult times since the end of WWII. Having gradually woken up after its collapse in 1990=1991, Russia has embarked on a process of imperial recovery. First with the war in Georgia, in August 2008, resulting in the establishment of two self-proclaimed independent republics (South Osetia and Abkhazia), then with the 2014 aggression on Ukraine, when Crimea was annexed and the Eastern part of the country was destabilised (through the self-proclamation of two independent republics – Luhansk and Donetzk). It is therefore clear, as noted by various official documents, including NATO and EU’s, that Russia’s revisionist action in Eastern Europe is a systemic-scale crisis threatening peace on the Old Continent. Western leaders, in spite of Moscow-based diplomacy protests, openly qualify Russia as a top threat to global security.
Last week, on 23rd October, the text pending publication by George Soros in the very extensively read supplement to the well-known US newspaper ‘The New York Review of Books’ on 20th November. The text has an inciting headline – ‘Wake Up Europe’ – and is a thorough analysis of the state of affairs in Europe. The very first sentence is revealing as to the author’s position: ‘Europe is facing a challenge from Russia to its very existence. Neither the European leaders nor their citizens are fully aware of this challenge or know how best to deal with it. I attribute this mainly to the fact that the European Union in general and the eurozone in particular lost their way after the financial crisis of 2008’.
But Soros also identified another threat which is perfidiously lurking down on Europe, apart from the one represented by the force being used by the Russian leader, fighting a ‘hybrid’ war that seeks to pervert the minds of not just nations in its immediate neighbourhood, but also in the more remote territories of the Old Continent (it is no coincidentally that the author cites the successes recorded in the various European countries of right and far-right political movements, whose leaders are making no effort to hide their sympathy for V. Putin). This time it’s an economic threat, one that endangers growth and that could pulverise, through the social tension caused by unemployment and flagrant disparities, the social fabric, that could turn the willingness to resist frangible and promote obedience to adventurous appeals or enticing siren calls made by so-called traditionalists.
G. Soros states: ‘Sanctions against Russia are necessary but they are a necessary evil. They have a depressive effect not only on Russia but also on the European economies, including Germany. This aggravates the recessionary and deflationary forces that are already at work. By contrast, assisting Ukraine in defending itself against Russian aggression would have a simulative effect not only on Ukraine but also on Europe. That is the principle that ought to guide European assistance to Ukraine’. However – he further shows – Germany continues to be the main advocate of a fiscal austerity in the European Union, which is similar to not understanding–the danger posed by Russia. German Chancellor Angela Merkel proved political flexibility and genuine statesman qualities when she convinced a reluctant public to agree to sanctions, something that turned out to be the correct measure recognised as such. Opinion polls convincingly indicate that the public has been convinced by the realism of the solutions anticipated by the chancellor. But ‘on fiscal austerity she has recently reaffirmed her allegiance to the orthodoxy of the Bundesbank—probably in response to the electoral inroads made by the Alternative for Germany, the anti-euro party. She does not seem to realize how inconsistent that is. She ought to be even more committed to helping Ukraine than to imposing sanctions on Russia.’
Asserting that the Russian attack on Ukraine was an attack on the European Union, something Europe fails to admit to, the author calls upon the Old Continent to realise that it is engaged in an ‘indirect war’ with Russia. Or, to quote George Soros, ‘It is high time for the members of the European Union to wake up and behave as countries indirectly at war. They are better off helping Ukraine to defend itself than having to fight for themselves. One way or another, the internal contradiction between being at war and remaining committed to fiscal austerity has to be eliminated. Where there is a will, there is a way.’ Crucial in this respect remains the role of the EU, who must proceed to a quick introspection in order to prove the fact that the spirit that led to its formation comes with requirements the bloc must further adhere to if it wants to withstand the passage of time. And G. Soros concludes: ‘That could help them recapture the original spirit that led to the creation of the European Union. The European Union would save itself by saving Ukraine.’
G. Soros’ warning should be definitely taken seriously. The Russian aggression in Eastern Europe is not over, and Putin is actually waiting for a sign from Washington indicating a deal he would not be refused, to allow him to continue to implement his design in this region in exchange for his support in the Middle East in front of the ISIL threat. Europe is therefore invited to admit to the fact that sanctions against Russia will not be effective unless Ukraine receives support to be able to resist. Such thing cannot be achieved while there is still fiscal austerity feeding internal tension in European societies. And if Ukraine falls, the European Union itself will be presented with an existential dilemma. Such things – Soros says – must be acknowledged by Europe before it’s too late and any response measures should be in such way designed that Europe is not dominated neither by a single exterior power (Russia) nor by a duo of powers (Russia and the US), but stay consistent with its own spirit – the willingness to be free and united – that actually gave birth to the European Union.
This advice/warning comes from an American.