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Zelensky tells Davos the world is ‘at a turning point’

President Volodymyr Zelensky at Davos Reuters
President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the World Economic Forum at Davos via video link on Monday
  • Ukraine’s president called for more sanctions on Moscow
  • All trade with Russia should be terminated, he said
  • Leader spoke via video link on first day of World Economic Forum

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed global business leaders at Davos on Monday, telling them the world faced a turning point and had to ramp up sanctions against Russia as a warning to other countries considering using brute force. 

“History is at a turning point… This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world,” said Zelensky, who spoke via video link while wearing his trademark olive green T-shirt. 

His speech kicked off the four-day World Economic Forum that gathers some 2,000 business and economic leaders and experts in Switzerland, with Ukraine high on the agenda. 

In stark contrast to previous years, when Moscow’s state institutions and private companies threw some of glitziest parties with black caviar, vintage champagne and foie gras, Russian businesses have not been invited to the Alpine resort. 

“Russia House”, formerly Moscow’s base at Davos, has been turned into a “Russian War Crimes House” by Ukrainian artists, exhibiting pictures of misery and devastation caused by the war. 

Moscow has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes while it carries out what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine. The Kremlin says Western sanctions and arms deliveries for Kyiv amount to a “proxy war” waged against it. 

Zelensky urged countries to put more pressure on Moscow and accused them of not exhausting sanctions. 

“The sanctions should be maximum, so that Russia – and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbour – clearly knows the immediate consequences of their actions,” he said. 

He demanded an oil embargo, the blockage of all Russian banks and a termination of all trade. Foreign businesses should withdraw completely from Russia and the Russian IT industry should be cut off from the West, Zelensky added. 

The sanctions must set a precedent, deterring any other aggressors in the decades to come, he said.

Russia had caused its decline by its own actions, Zelensky claimed. He cited the renaming of the Russia House as “an example of their transformation, what Russia has done to itself, of becoming a state of war criminals and what it brings to the world – it inspires other potential aggressors to act”.