President Volodymyr Zelensky delivered an address at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.
“This year the words “turning point” are not just a rhetorical figure. This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world. If it reigns, our thoughts won’t matter to it. And we may no longer convene in Davos.
Look at the building of the former russian House in Davos. It has been turned into a house of russian war crimes. And this is an example of what russia brings to the world. Inspiring other potential aggressors.
Instead of successful peaceful cities – black ruins. Instead of normal trade – mined sea and blocked ports in Ukraine. This is what the world will look like if humanity misses this turning point. It will look like a very large collection of war crimes.
And now we have a large collection of such reactions: the UN Charter with all units of the Organization, the OSCE, the IAEA, the WTO and many, many other important institutions. But are they enough to respond to what we are facing today? And is it enough now to try to adapt those institutions to modern challenges? Definitely not. We need to change the approach: not to react, but to act. And act preventively. And not only to adapt what we have to the new realities, but also to create new tools. New precedents.
Ukraine has already set a historical precedent for courage. Without listening to those who said that our defense would not last longer than a few days.
We have stopped the russian army, which was called the second in the world, and at the cost of heavy fighting and thousands of lives, we are gradually driving the occupiers out of our land. But would we have to do that if we had been listened to last year and if the full range of sanctions that can knock down any aggressor had been applied fairly and preventively against the russian federation?
Ukraine has set another one precedent as well in these three months. A precedent for the unprecedented unity of the democratic world around the emotion of genuine admiration for Ukrainian courage and around the understanding that freedom must be fought for. But if it had happened earlier, would russia have started a full-scale war? I am sure that the answer is “no”.
So Ladies and Gentlemen! Don't wait for the fatal strikes. Don't wait until russia uses special weapons – do not give the aggressor the impression that the world will not show enough resistance. Protect freedom immediately and in full! That's what sanctions should be – maximal! And I think there are no such sanctions against russia yet. But they must be imposed.
russian oil embargo. Complete blocking of all banks without exception – all. Complete abandonment of the russian IT sector. Complete cessation of trade with the aggressor. This should be a precedent for sanctions pressure that will work convincingly for decades to maintain peace.
It is necessary to set a precedent for the complete exit of all foreign businesses from the russian market. So that your brands are not associated with war crimes. Values must matter. Especially when global markets are destabilized due to someone’s neglect of values. For our part, we offer every company that leaves the russian market to continue operating in Ukraine. You will get access not only to our market, but also to the common market of Europe. And at the same time – your brands will only be enhanced due to the fact that you really support the protection of freedom.
We offer the world to set a precedent for rebuilding the country after the war, which will show everyone that the war doesn’t bring the expected result. I invite you to take part in this reconstruction – the amount of work is enormous. We have more than half a trillion dollars in losses, tens of thousands of objects were destroyed.
We need to rebuild entire cities, entire industries. And we offer a special model of reconstruction, when each of the partner countries or partner cities or partner companies will have the opportunity – historical one – to take patronage over a particular region of Ukraine, city, community or industry. Thanks to this model, post-war reconstruction can be fast and efficient. And this will become the largest opportunity for economic leap in Europe since World War II. And I hope that by the beginning of the international conference in Lugano in July, all our partner countries will have formed their own packages of proposals.
There must be a precedent for punishment for the aggressor. russian assets scattered in different jurisdictions must be found, arrested or frozen, and then confiscated and sent to a special Fund from which all victims of this war can receive compensation. When the aggressor loses everything, it definitely deprives him of motivation to fight.
Famine. It has not yet begun. But we propose to create an organization of responsible and democratic food-exporting states that can act with respect for human rights and global trade rules. Humanity must have insurance against famine. And Ukraine is ready to provide a platform for such a new organization.
In addition, we offer a new format of security guarantees, based on what we have gone through. There must be something that sets a precedent of absolutely timely assistance. To everyone who needs it to preserve peace, to preserve life, to preserve social stability – that is, all the necessary elements for a normal economy. Like, for example, the 911 service, there must be a United24 that guarantees security on a global scale.
George Marshall said in 1947 the following words: “Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist.” These words are still relevant today. My proposals are directed in the same way – against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. And of course against the war unleashed by russia, which brings nothing but hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. To many countries in the world, not just to ours one.
Therefore, in order to guarantee peace and tranquility, we must all act quickly and preventively. We must not be afraid to set new precedents. This is exactly what the world has long had to learn at various turning points, for which it paid a high price. This was the price for the fact that the world only reacted, not acted preventively. So, now we can do it differently. Finally in the right way!”