Ukraine has urged world leaders to intensify efforts to remove Vladimir Putin’s troops from its soil as the country’s war with Russia dominated the first full day of the gathering of the global elite in Davos.
With the war clouding the outlook for the global economy in 2023, Ukraine’s deputy prime minister, Yuliia Svyrydenko, urged the country’s allies to step up supplies of military hardware so that Russia could be more quickly defeated.
Asked what was next for Ukraine, Svyrydenko said: “What’s next is success. Russia won’t achieve its goal and we will definitely win this war.”
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, used a special address to demand that those attending the World Economic Forum use their influence to end Russia’s aggression.
Zelenska told delegates in Davos that some were failing to use their influence, or sometimes using it in a way “that divides even more”.
“What can life be in a world where tanks are allowed to strike at nuclear power stations? What will happen to inflation when state borders start to collapse, and the integrity of countries is trampled?” she asked.
“This war can go further, and make crises wider, if the aggressor does not lose,” Zelenska added.
She brought three letters from her husband, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, to hand to Alain Berset, the president of the Swiss Confederation, to the European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, and for China’s Xi Jinping, which has been handed to the vice-premier, Liu He, who is attending Davos.
The note says that “if people come together, they can move mountains”, Zelenska revealed.
Fatih Birol, the executive director of the International Energy Agency, said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine triggered an energy crisis on an unprecedented scale. “Our world has never ever seen an energy crisis of this depth and of this complexity,” he said.
“At the same time it gave a big boost to clean energy development. In the past clean energy was renewables, electric cars, efficiency, heat pumps, they were growing, but the main driver was environmental reasons. The biggest driver [of renewables] today is energy security – homegrown is the energy of peace.”
Beata Javorcik, the chief economist of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), said the focus had changed since the last Davos meeting in May.
“In May, we were talking about reconstruction [of Ukraine]. The focus now is getting through the winter, what’s happening in the here and now”.
Javorcik said international bodies such as the EBRD were concentrating on emergency budget support and emergency repairs. “We are helping to keep the lights on, the heat on and the trains running”, she said.
At least 7 million Ukrainians have fled abroad since the war started last February and Javorcik said the EBRD was eager to avoid another wave of refugees by providing help over the coming months. “Human capital is as important as physical capital,” she said.
Von der Leyen said the EU would not desert Ukraine. “We are in it for as long as it takes, and stand by our Ukrainian friends”, she said.
North Macedonia’s president, Stevo Pendarovski, said he feared that the western Balkans were a soft spot in Europe’s security architecture. Pendarovski told a Davos event that Putin’s regime had, for years, tried to provoke the people in the region, through fake news and propaganda.
He predicted that Russia could try to deflect the west’s attention from Ukraine, and that the western Balkan region was more prone to that risk than the Baltic countries.
“It seems to me that the so-called soft spot in the whole pan-European security architecture right now, apart from Ukraine of course, from that danger from the Kremlin is the western Balkans,” Pendarovski said.