In January, 2015, Ukraine was making a slow transition from an old, corrupt political system to a modern, participatory democracy. The enthusiastic reformers are still dealing with an entrenched bureaucracy and official bribery, but the people want a change to modernity and a closer relationship with Europe.
At the same time that the Ukrainians were demonstrating for further reforms in Independence Square in Kiev, Russian troops were encamped in eastern Ukraine. According to Soros, Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, wanted to squelch the Ukrainian democracy movement because he feared it might spread to his country. As a result of his aggression, economic sanctions were placed on Russia.
Soros said at the time that the sanctions were working very well. The Russian banks could not access foreign markets. Also, the price of oil at the time was very low, only $55 a barrel, and this pushed the nation into a crisis. The value of the ruble dropped by half and interest rates have risen. Soros said the crisis may lead to a default. This, he said, may lead to international financial turmoil, weakening the euro.
Soros felt that sanctions should remain on Russia, while at the same time Ukraine should be given aid. Ukraine would receive help in defending itself and economically, exports should be encouraged as well as investment in the nation. He urged Europe to adjust their dealings with Russia and Ukraine. He feels, however, that Europe is “oblivious.”
According to George Soros, Ukraine should be the EU’s priority. It represents resistance to Russian aggression and the sense of unity that the EU originally had, which makes the nation valuable to Europe.
George Soros would like to see Ukraine merge its economy into that of the EU. He would urge the nation to get off Russian gas, clean up the bureaucracy, boost the nation’s agriculture, create an honest and independent judiciary and media, build a civil service that is responsive to the public, not entrenched special interests, and eradicate corruption.
In August, 2015, Soros noted the nation’s $19 billion debt. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is demanding debt relief and Ukraine is trying to deal with it. He feels that writing off the debt would be “doom,” and praised Ukraine for not doing it. He feels that “debt relief and even default is in Ukraine’s best interest.”
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