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Davos 2022: President Zelenskyy on 'new precedents' and a call for global help 'as fast as possible'

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine addresses Davos 2022.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine addresses Davos 2022. Image: World Economic Forum

Gayle Markovitz
Acting Head, Written and Audio Content, World Economic Forum
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  • Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine addresses Davos 2022, Monday 23 May.
  • He said the sanctions against Russia should have been "preventative" and questioned whether Ukraine would have had to “set a historical precedent for courage” had action come sooner.
  • He called for help to come "as fast as possible" to equip Ukraine for victory and help rebuild the country after the war.

As leaders gather this week to address the world's toughest challenges, the war in Ukraine is front and centre. Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, delivered a special address on the opening morning at Davos 2022, setting the agenda for leaders to come together to help his country.

Borge Brende, President of the World Economic Forum has called for a "Marshall Plan" for the reconstruction of Ukraine, while Professor Klaus Schwab in his opening remarks said, "Our first thoughts are with the war in Ukraine. Russia’s aggression on their country will be seen in future history books as the breakdown of the post-World War II and post-Cold War order. This is the reason why we speak about a turning point in history. In Davos, our solidarity is foremost with the people suffering from the atrocities of this war."

Watch the full session here.

Brute force

President Zelenskyy referenced the Davos 2022 Annual Meeting’s theme - History at a Turning Point - citing the unprecedented nature of the Russian Federation’s “brute force”, which seeks “nothing but the subjugation of those it seeks to subdue”.


Historical precedent for courage

He expressed regret that the world did not act sooner in a “preventative” way asking whether Ukraine would have had to “set a historical precedent for courage” had Russia been properly sanctioned last year.


'Maximum' sanctions

Volodymyr Zelenskyy called for "maximum" sanctions and a “complete withdrawal from the Russian market”, listing just some of the sanctions he believes should be imposed upon Russia for its crimes against Ukraine and its people. He warned, “If the values of freedom are lost - everyone loses”.


Rebuild Ukraine

Zelenskyy's special address at Davos 2022 also called on countries to help reconstruct the country after the war, via 'United 24' - a fund set up to rebuild the country. “We call on everyone to join this platform”, he said, and cited more than “half a trillion dollars of losses” with the urgent need to rebuild entire cities and industries.


Thread to global freedom and security

He said the plight of Ukraine is a broader concern for world freedom. Zelenskyy used George Marshall’s words, warning of the looming threat of “hunger, poverty, despair and chaos” as a byproduct of Russia’s aggression, not just to the Ukrainian people, but “to many in the world”.


Much depends on speed

Zelenskyy spoke about a future for his country that is “about people and businesses”, and said his dream is for a “modern, safe nation”. In response to a question about the current food crisis, he said solutions include the “de-blockading” of critical ports, but said there is a “no one-size-fits-all response”. He also appealed for support from the global community to come “as fast as possible… much depends on speed”.


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