Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine,
Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, in a live video address to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022 in Davos-Klosters, today, 23 March, told participants how he wakes up every day to read the numbers of his people killed in the war in the last 24 hours.
“Today,” he said, “we lost 87 people and the future of Ukraine will be without these 87 people”.
His stark message was in response to the question, what is your dream for Ukraine?
Zelenskyy was speaking at the opening session of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2022. Nearly 2,500 leaders from politics, business, civil society and the media were welcomed by Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, to the first in-person Annual Meeting for more than two years held under the theme, History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies.
Speaking through a translator, the Ukrainian president said: “This year the words ‘turning point’ appear to have become more than just a rhetorical figure of speech. This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world.”
He went on: “Brute force does not discuss – it kills, as Russia does in Ukraine as we speak today.”
“Instead of successful peaceful cities there’s only black ruins. Instead of normal trade there are seas full of mines and blocked ports. Instead of tourism there are closed skies and thousands of Russian bombs and cruise missiles.” He said: “This is what the world would look like if humanity misses this turning point.”
He called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia, including an oil embargo and a complete withdrawal of foreign companies. “All trade with the aggressor should be stopped. All foreign business should leave Russia so that your brands are not associated with war crimes. So that your offices, bills and goods are not used by war criminals in their bloody interests. Values must matter.”
He continued: “This is what sanctions should be. They should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor that wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbour clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions.”
He compared Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with events in Sarajevo in 1914 and Munich in 1938, two historic moments that preceded the two world wars.
Zelenskyy praised his people’s courage. The war and the Ukrainian people’s resistance have stirred the unity of the democratic world and showed “that freedom must be fought for”. The Ukrainian leader received a standing ovation.
“The war in Ukraine represents a turning point in history and the resulting tragedy will reshape our political and our economic landscape in the coming years,” said Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive, Chairman, World Economic Forum.
Ignazio Cassis, President of Switzerland, said: “Switzerland has strongly opposed the war of aggression in Ukraine. There can be no neutral attitude in the face of a brutal attack on our shared values of freedom and democracy. We stand alongside other countries in condemning the war.”
For over 50 years, the World Economic Forum has been the international organization for public-private cooperation. The Annual Meeting is the focal point for leaders to accelerate the partnerships needed to tackle global challenges and shape a more sustainable and inclusive future. Convening under the theme, History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies, the Annual Meeting 2022 and its 200 sessions bring together global leaders from business, government and civil society