Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia during a virtual speech Monday to business leaders, government officials and other elites on the first day of the World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, in Swiss.
He said sanctions must go further to stop Russia’s aggression, including an oil embargo, blocking all its banks and completely cutting off trade with Russia. He said it’s a precedent that will work for decades to come.
“This is what the sanctions should be: they should be maximum, so that Russia and any other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions,” Zelensky said through ‘a translator.
He also pushed for the complete withdrawal of foreign companies from Russia to prevent supporting his war and said Ukraine needed at least US$5 billion in funding per month.
“The amount of work is huge: we have more than half a trillion dollars in losses, tens of thousands of facilities have been destroyed. We have to rebuild cities and entire industries,” Zelensky said, days after the meeting of the major economies of the Group of Seven. agreed to provide 19.8 billion US dollars in economic aid.
Volodymyr Zelenskyy lists some of the sanctions he believes should be imposed on Russia for its crimes against Ukraine and its people.
He said that if Ukraine had “received 100% of our needs at once, in February” in terms of arms, funding, political support and sanctions against Russia, “the result would be tens of thousands lives saved”.
The war was front and center on Monday in Davos, the village in the Swiss Alps that has been transformed into a glitzy venue for the four-day conference ostensibly devoted to making the world a better place. The in-person event resumes after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which also delayed this year’s meeting from its usual wintertime slot.
Participants also addressed other major issues such as the threat of increasing world hunger, climate change, inequality and persistent health crises. But it’s hard to predict whether the ambitious talks will result in substantive announcements that will advance the world’s most pressing challenges.
Zelensky, who received a standing ovation after the remarks, repeated that Russia was blocking essential food supplies, such as wheat and sunflower oil, from leaving its ports.
Ukraine, along with Russia, is a major exporter of wheat, barley and sunflower oil, and the interruption of these supplies threatens food insecurity in countries in Africa, the Middle East and the Middle East. parts of Asia that depend on these affordable supplies.
The head of the United Nations World Food Program told a panel that “the failure to open ports is a declaration of war on global food systems.” He told The Associated Press that farmers in the region “grow enough food to feed 400 million people.”
If these supplies remain off the market, the world could face a food availability problem in the next 10 to 12 months, and “it will be hell on earth”, WFP Executive Director David Beasley told the Associated Press in an interview.
He warned that there are “49 million (people) currently knocking on the door of famine in 43 countries”, including Yemen, Lebanon, Mali, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Congo, Guatemala and El Salvador.
Beasley called on the world’s top mega-billionaires to help hunger prevention efforts: “The world is in very serious trouble. This is not rhetoric and BS Step up now, because the world needs you.”
In addition to Zelensky’s speech, a large Ukrainian government delegation is present in person, pleading for more Western support in the country’s fight against Russia.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko pointed to the audience during a panel with his brother, Wladimir, and said: “We defend you personally.”
“We are fighting, above all, for values” and to be part of the democratic world, Klitschko said. “And right now everyone has to be proactive because we’re paying for that – the biggest price, human lives every day.”
Russian officials have not been invited to Davos this year, which has been dubbed the ‘House of Russia’ having been turned by critics – including Ukrainian tycoon Victor Pinchuk and the country’s foreign ministry – into this which they call the “War Crimes House in Russia”. The place features photos of crimes and cruelties that Russian forces are accused of perpetuating.
Don’t let war deter fossil fuel investment (IEA)
Meanwhile, the head of the International Energy Agency has urged countries and investors not to view energy shocks from war as a reason to increase fossil fuel investment – linking the invasion to another major theme of Davos: climate change and environmental issues.
“We shouldn’t try to justify a new wave of long-term investment in fossil fuels based on what (Russian President Vladimir) Putin has done,” Fatih Birol told a panel on the energy.
Instead, efficiency gains, such as reducing methane leaks and even lowering thermostats a few degrees this winter in Europe, would help ensure adequate energy supplies.
Russia is a major supplier of oil and natural gas, with the invasion pushing European countries to scramble to reduce their dependence on Moscow through fossil fuel supplies from other countries, conservation and to the acceleration of the development of renewable energies.
Yulia Klymenko, a member of the Ukrainian parliament, had harsh words for European leaders, asking why they failed to diversify their energy for decades.
“How come you are all dependent and de facto slaves of Putin? she asked on a sign titled “The Return of the West?”