Soros ready to pour $1 bn into Ukraine

US financier George Soros speaks onstage at the Annual Freedom Award Benefit hosted by the International Rescue Committee at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York City on November 6, 2013 (AFP Photo/Mike Coppola)

Vienna (AFP) - US financier George Soros said Monday he was ready to invest $1 billion in Ukraine if the West promised to help the embattled country.

"Ukraine is defending the EU from Russian aggression" and helping its development will weaken Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Hungarian-born philanthropist said in remarks published in German by the Austrian business daily Der Standard.

He said Ukraine needed 50 billion euros to get itself back on its feet, and said he was prepared to pump $1 billion (922 million euros) into agriculture and infrastructural projects.

Ukraine is at the edge of bankruptcy hit by the triple whammy of the war in its industrial east, a deep economic recession and the record devaluation of its currency. Its public debt likely to reach 94 percent of its GDP in 2015.

Soros said his investments "should make a profit", which would go to his foundation rather than him personally.

"The West can help Ukraine by making it more attractive to investors by giving them insurance against political risk," he said.

"That could take the form of financing very close to the European interest rates, which are very close to zero."

Ukrainian investment analysts ICU only predict a return to growth in 2017, and a sharp drop in GDP of 7.6 percent this year.