George Soros slams Merkel for ‘special deals’ on Russian gas

DAVOS, Switzerland — The philanthropist George Soros laid the blame for Europe’s Russian gas addiction squarely on ex-German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “special deals” with Moscow.

“Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels remains excessive, due largely to the mercantilist policies pursued by former Chancellor Angela Merkel,” said Soros, in a speech on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum Tuesday evening. “She had made special deals with Russia for the supply of gas and made China Germany’s largest export market.”

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine begins its fourth month, EU sanctions against Russian oil — much less gas — remain out of reach. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told POLITICO not to expect an agreement on such sanctions when EU leaders meet next week.

Soros, whose Open Society Foundation promotes liberal democracy, praised von der Leyen for finding a “strong European voice.” He added that while current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz was elected to continue Merkel’s policies, he “always seems to do the right thing in the end,” citing moves to nix Nord Stream 2, increase defense spending and send arms to Ukraine.

Soros repeatedly praised Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who was “more courageous, although Italy’s gas dependency is almost as high as Germany’s.”