29th Sep 2023

Zelensky calls for 'maximum sanctions' on Russia in Davos

  • Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky told the forum in Davos that Ukraine will need $5bn [€4.7bn] per month to stabilise its economy (Photo: European Commission)
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Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday (23 May) called on world leaders to impose "maximum sanctions" on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.

His speech came at the start of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where the world's business elite and political leaders meet for four days after a two-year pandemic break.

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Zelensky urged Western countries to impose a full embargo on Russian oil and technology, ban all Russian banks from global financing systems, and halt businesses and trade with Moscow.

"Maximum sanctions" are the only way to show Russia, or any other country waging a brutal war against its neighbour, the "immediate consequences" of their actions, Zelensky said in an address to the conference.

"If the aggressor loses everything, that definitely deprives him of any motivation to start a war," he said.

"With a neighbour like this, anything can happen anytime — the war may repeat itself," Zelensky warned.

Addressing the forum via videolink, he compared the historic events that took place before the two world wars — Sarajevo in 1914 and Munich in 1938 — to the current war in Ukraine, pointing out that the world is at "a turning point".

"History remembers many moments when everything changed dramatically," the Ukrainian president said.

In his speech, Zelensky called on all companies to leave Russia in order to set a "precedent". These companies will have access "not only to a market of 40 million consumers [Ukraine] but also to the EU common market," he said.

"This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world," the Ukrainian president warned. "If so, there is no need for further meetings in Davos".

EU member states have still not agreed on the sixth package of sanctions against Russia, presented by the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen three weeks ago.

On Monday Germany's economy Minister Robert Habeck warned Hungary, which has been the most vocal opponent of a swift Russian oil embargo, against blocking efforts on an oil embargo.

Habek at the same time suggested Germany would agree to an EU-wide embargo without Hungary. EU leaders are expected to discuss the impasse early next week at a summit in Brussels.

Ukrainian 'Marshall Plan'

Meanwhile, calls to set up a recovery programme for Ukraine in the style of the post-WW2 Marshall plan have increased in recent weeks.

"The amount of work is enormous … We need to rebuild entire cities and industries," Zelensky told over 1,000 CEOs and public officials in Davos.

Ukraine, he said, will need $5bn [€4.7bn] per month to stabilise its economy — as the country faces more than half a trillion dollars in losses and, inevitably, a deep recession.

Last month, the World Bank estimated that Ukraine's economy will contract by 45 percent this year due to the Russian invasion.

But Zelensky's government has designed a "special, historically significant model of rebuilding" which will allow companies and countries to choose a specific region or facility to rebuild.

The online fundraising platform United 24 was launched early in May as part of Ukraine's efforts to rebuild the country.


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