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Philanthropist George Soros said the Russian invasion of Ukraine may have been the beginning of a global war that civilization might not survive.
Speaking at the 2022 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Soros said the international community has been increasingly engaged in a battle between “open society” and “closed society.” He defined open society as one in which a government works to protect individual freedoms and closed society as one where the individual’s role is to serve the state.
“The invasion may have been the beginning of the Third World War and our civilization may not survive it,” he said of the Russian war in Ukraine.
He said other international issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change have received less attention because of this struggle between open and closed nations, the reason he said society may not survive.
Soros said the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s and early 1990s saw a victory for open society, but the tide began shifting against it after 9/11. He said Russia and China pose the greatest threats to open society.
“Repressive regimes are now in the ascendant, and open societies are under siege,” he said.
He said the war in Ukraine is now entering a new phase that will be more challenging for the Ukrainian army. With a more open terrain for battles, the gap in the size of the Russian and Ukrainian militaries will be more difficult to overcome, he said.
Soros said Russian President Vladimir Putin seems to recognize he made a “terrible mistake” in invading Ukraine and is preparing to negotiate a cease-fire, but he doubts if one can be achieved because Putin cannot be trusted. He said as Putin’s standing becomes weaker, he will become more unpredictable and may turn to more drastic measures.
Soros said as the war continues, climate change has fallen into second place in the international community’s minds even though experts warn its effects are close to becoming irreversible, which could be the end of civilization.
He said society must not take for granted the idea that civilization will always survive and should mobilize “all our resources” to defeat Putin and end the war in Ukraine quickly.