Billionaire financier George Soros has urged the West to step up aid to Ukraine, outlining steps towards a $50 billion (33.22 billion pounds) financing package that he said should be viewed as a bulwark against an increasingly aggressive Russia.

Writing in the New York Review of Books, Soros said Europe and the United States needed to balance sanctions imposed on Russia with large-scale assistance to near-bankrupt Ukraine, which risks defaulting on debt as a result of turmoil caused by pro-Russia separatist fighting.

“Europe needs to wake up and recognise that it is under attack from Russia,” the Hungarian-born hedge fund magnate wrote. “Assisting Ukraine should also be considered as a defence expenditure by the European Union countries.”

The International Monetary Fund has cobbled together a $17 billion programme for Ukraine but says $15 billion more is needed. Soros called on lenders to promise far more to spur Ukraine into radical reform and to send a signal to Russia.

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