Zelensky’s appeal to World Economic Forum - GulfToday

Zelensky’s appeal to World Economic Forum

Ukrainian issue is similar to what happened in 2016

Volodymyr Zelensky

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a powerful appeal to the global business community at the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos on Sunday. He offered to the countries and businesses an attractive model for rebuilding Ukraine after the huge devastation caused by Russian missile attacks in the last three months. He offered that he would offer each country and each business a particular region, a particular city, and a particular industry to rebuild on the pattern of patronage and partnership, and he said that this would benefit all. He said that all those businesses which had left Russia could continue to operate from Ukraine, a country of 40 million consumers. And said that they would at the same time have access to the whole of the European market. He disclosed that the United Kingdom, Denmark, and the EU have already chosen this patronage model, and offered the prospect of rebuilding Ukraine, comparable to the rebuilding of Europe at the end of the Second World War. And he pointed to the magnitude of the rebuilding of Ukraine: “The amount of work is enormous. We have more than half-a-trillion dollars in losses, tens of thousands of facilities were destroyed. We need to rebuild entire cities and industries.”

Zelensky has clearly spelt out the precondition. He said that Russia must be totally boycotted. There should be no dealing of any kind with Russia. He said that there should “be a Russian oil embargo, all the Russian banks should be blocked, no exceptions, there should be an abandonment of the Russian IT sector, there shouldn’t be any trade with Russia.” And he was emphatic in his plea for isolating Russia economically: “It is necessary for the complete withdrawal of all businesses from the Russian market so that your brands are not associated with war crimes. This matters…when global markets are becoming destabilised.”

He also taunted the world governments for not responding strongly and effectively to Russian aggression against Ukraine in 2014 when Russia occupied Crimea. He said that had there been a powerful response then Russia would not have unleashed the war in 2022. And he expressed the view that it is necessary to set a precedent that aggression does not pay. And he bluntly told the gathering at Davos that world is at a turning point when it must decide whether brute force such as Russia was using in Ukraine should be allowed to prevail. He said if use of force is allowed then there is no point holding meetings like that being held in Davos. Zelensky said that “brute force is not interested in our thoughts. Brute force seeks nothing but the subjugation of those it seeks to subdue. It does not discuss, but kills at once, and Russia is doing that in Ukraine, even as we speak.” The question remains whether Europe and the United States and others in the world will respond to the impassioned speech of President Zelensky.

The war in Ukraine and the economic sanctions against Russia have caused enough turbulence in the European markets. The sanctions against Russia have isolated Russia but not fully because countries like China and India continue to trade with it. It is a test of the strength of Western economies whether their boycott of Russia would cripple the Russian economy. Russia’s relative prosperity before the Ukraine war began in February this year was entirely dependent on Russia’s supply of oil and gas to European countries. If the Europeans were to move away, the foreign exchange earnings in dollars and euros will certainly go down. Russia under siege has been bargaining for payments in roubles but that might not be as lucrative as payments in dollars and euros.

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