DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia during a virtual speech Monday to business executives, government officials and other elites on the first day of the rally of the World Economic Forum in Davos.
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.
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“Here’s 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,” Zelenskyy 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 $5 billion in funding a 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 need to rebuild entire cities and entire industries,” Zelenskyy said, days after the major Group of Seven economies agreed to provide $19.8 billion in economic aid.
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”.
Zelenskyy’s speech is front and center Monday in Davos, the village in the Swiss Alps that has been transformed into a glitzy venue for the four-day confab ostensibly dedicated 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 winter slot.
For participants, there is a lot to face in the face of soaring food and fuel prices, Russia’s war in Ukraine, climate change, inequality and ongoing 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.
“This war is truly a turning point in history, and it will reshape our political and economic landscape for years to come,” said event founder Klaus Schwab.
Zelenskyy, 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 UN’s 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’s going to be hell on earth,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley. to the AP 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 contribute to hunger prevention efforts: “The world is really in deep trouble. This is not rhetoric and BS Step up now because the world needs you.
In addition to Zelenskyy’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 fight first for values” and to be part of the democratic world, said Vitali Klitschko. “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.
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 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 reliance on supplies from Moscow.
AP reporters Kelvin Chan and Peter Prengaman contributed from Davos.