George Soros Says Ukraine War May Be 'Beginning of World War 3'

Billionaire financier and philanthropist George Soros has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine had put civilization in danger.

Soros, 91, told his annual dinner at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday that the war had changed the world irrevocably and that "even when the fighting stops...the situation will never revert to the status quo."

"Indeed, the Russian invasion may turn out to be the beginning of World War III, and our civilization may not survive it." He said that Putin's invasion "has shaken Europe to its core."

Philanthropist George Soros
Investor and philanthropist George Soros on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos on May 24, 2022. He said he feared that the Ukraine war would descend into World War 3. FABRICE COFFRINI/Getty Images

Soros, who has often been a target for the U.S. far right, is the chair of Soros Fund Management LLC and funds liberal charities and nongovernmental organizations through his Open Society Foundations. He said that prioritizing the war over crises like pandemics and climate change posed its own dangers.

"That's why I say our civilization may not survive," he said.

Citing experts, Soros said that "we have already fallen far behind, and climate change is on the verge of becoming irreversible. That could be the end of our civilization."

The war in Ukraine has caused gas and oil prices to surge and coal use to spike as the several European countries seek to circumvent the use of Russian energy sources. This has led to warnings that global heating targets will be harmed.

Soros felt the possibility of irreversible climate change was "particularly frightening," and that even if we accept, "we must eventually die...we take it for granted that our civilization will survive."

"Therefore, we must mobilize all our resources to bring the war to an early end," he said. "The best and perhaps only way to preserve our civilization is to defeat Putin. That's the bottom line."

Despite the bleak assessment of the war, he praised Ukraine for "rendering a tremendous service to Europe and to the Western world and to open society and our survival." In Soros' view, Kyiv's forces "are fighting our fight" and have "a really good chance of winning."

Following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Soros had warned against the rise of closed societies "Repressive regimes are now in the ascendance and open societies are under siege," he said.

He said that repressive regimes, such as China and Russia "present the greatest threat to open society" and had been aided by the development of digital technologies and especially artificial intelligence.

He said that AI should be "politically neutral" but in fact it has been "particularly good at creating instruments of control that help repressive regimes and endanger open society."

Newsweek has contracted the Kremlin press office.