At the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska painted a dire picture of a world in which Ukraine lacked support in its defence against Russia.
Ms. Zelenska spoke at the WEF’s annual meeting in Davos on January 17th, reprimanding the world’s elite for not doing more to help her country push back the Russian invasion launched in February 2022
She also stressed the necessity of preventing a “full-scale, full-on global crisis” and cautioned that Russia had no intention of stopping its military march in Ukraine.
We are facing a threat of the collapse of the world as we know it, the way that we are accustomed to it or to what we aspire.
What can be life 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 will be trampled on by those who want it?
What will happen to the cost of living when millions—not millions but tens of millions—of people will be forced to flee mass starvation and will become refugees?
Zelenska continued: “How does the world want to achieve climate neutrality if so far it hasn’t even stopped the burning of entire cities in Ukraine?”
“This is what Russia is doing with its artillery, with its missiles, with its Iranian drones and you know that the Russian aggression was never intended to restrict itself to the Ukrainian borders,” she stated. “This war can go further and make the crisis wider if the aggressor does not lose.”
She also blamed some elites for their complacency:
You are all united by the fact that you are really very influential. But there is also something that separates you—and that is that not all of you are using this influence or sometimes you use it in a way that divides even more.
She described the suffering in Ukraine caused by the Russian invasion: parents crying as doctors tried to save their children, and farmers afraid to work their fields due to landmines.
In an interview with CNN the day before, she also highlighted the resistance of the Ukrainian people.
“We understand that upon carrying on for a year, we are capable of persevering for even longer,” she said.
She was greeted with applause as she took the stage at Davos, an event that was once frequented by Russian oligarchs.
She also said that she had brought letters from Ukrainian leaders for EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who both spoke at the meeting.
Other Ukrainian officials were also in attendance, including Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and Yulia Svyrydenko, first vice prime minister of Ukraine.
On January 19th, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky spoke via video conference at a side event, the Ukrainian Breakfast, hosted by the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, started in 2005 by the Ukrainian oligarch of the same name. It’s an annual event in parallel with the WEF meeting.
CNN journalist Fareed Zakaria facilitated the discussion and speakers included former UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, CEO of BlackRock Lawrence Fink, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, CEO of Goldman Sachs David Solomon, the chairman of iron mining firm Fortescue Metals Group Andrew Forrest, and the Ukrainian Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia Borys Gudziak.
According to a press release from the foundation, Zelensky reiterated his calls for the West to send more arms to Ukraine. Johnson and Rutte expressed their support for arming Ukraine. Funding Ukraine’s reconstruction was also discussed.
The foundation also hosted discussions on war reparations, and the exhibit ‘Ukraine Is You,’ which shows the destruction in Ukraine.
The presence of Ukrainian officials at the elite meeting is part of the country’s ongoing campaign to elicit international support for its defence against the Russian invasion started in February 2022.