Olena Zelenska hits out at Davos billionaires in speech to global elite… while pleading for help for Ukraine and warning ‘we face the collapse of the world as we know it’
- Olena Zelenska was speaking at the World Economic Forum, Davos, Switzerland
- It is part of a push by her husband President Zelensky to acquire more weapons
- She said Ukraine needs help of government leaders to stop the crisis spreading
Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska has hit out at Davos billionaires in a speech to the global elite as she pleaded for more help for her country at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
She scolded billionaires and government leaders in the speech on Tuesday, saying they were not doing enough and stressing the need to prevent a ‘full-scale, full-on global crisis’.
Ms Zelenska also said Russia’s war would eventually spread to other countries as it ‘never intended to restrict itself to the Ukrainian borders’ but that ‘unity is what brings peace back’.
Her appearance is part of a push by President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government to acquire more foreign weapons to defend against Russia’s invasion.
She pleaded for more help for her country at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland
The first lady said she brought letters from Ukrainian leadership to European Commission Ursula von der Leyen (pictured embracing today)
‘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.’
Olena Zelenska took to the stage and was met with applause, before speaking in Ukrainian to delegates.
She warned that Russia’s war in Ukraine means ‘we are facing the collapse of the world as we know it’.
France, the UK, the US and other nations are vowing to send increasingly powerful weapons to Ukraine, such as tanks or armoured combat vehicles.
She told delegates: ‘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 million but tens of millions – of people will be forced to flee mass starvation and will become refugees.’
The WEF was once the deal-making playground for Moscow’s billionaires but since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine glitzy parties and investment meetings with Russian politicians, executives and academics are no more.
Olena 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 it missiles, with its Iranian drones and you know that the Russian aggression was never intended to restrict itself to the Ukrainian borders.
‘This war can go further and make the crisis wider if the aggressor does not lose.
Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska has hit out at Davos billionaires in a speech to the global elite
Ms Zelensky attended the annual World Economic Forum’s gathering and is pictured alongside Alain Berset President of Switzerland (left), Ursula von der Leyen and WEF founder Klaus Schwab
Ms Zelenska warned that Russia’s war in Ukraine means ‘we are facing the collapse of the world as we know it’
Her appearance is part of a push by President Volodymyr Zelensky and his government to acquire more foreign weapons to defend against Russia’s invasion (pictured together addressing the Ukrainian people on New Year in Kyiv)
She hit out at Russia as the anniversary of the war in Ukraine nears, saying parents are in tears watching doctors trying to save their children, farmers are afraid to go back to their fields filled with explosive mines and that ‘we cannot allow a new Chernobyl to happen.’
She said her husband Zelensky has suggested a ten-point plan to world leaders to help defeat Russia and outweigh their aggression.
The first lady said she brought letters from Ukrainian leadership to European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and to Chinese President Xi Jinping that she will give to Vice Premier Liu He, who is also speaking today.
Security teams fanned out and snow ploughs cleared streets as Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska and hundreds of government officials, corporate titans, academics and activists from around the world descended on the town billed as Europe’s highest for the traditional winter gathering.
Ms Zelenska’s speech comes after she told CNN through an interpreter on Sunday that despite Russia missile strikes that have pounded Ukrainian energy infrastructure and civilian areas in recent months, ‘we understand that upon carrying on for a year, we are capable of persevering for even longer’.
The high-level Ukrainian diplomatic push in Davos in the spotlight of CEOs, global government officials and the media offers a new chance to enlist and ramp up international support that the Ukrainians have been clamouring for – weapons like tanks and anti-rocket defences as well as greater pressure to further isolate and squeeze Russia’s economy.
Ms Zelenska asked Congress for more US air defence systems as she visited Washington for a week in July and met US first lady Jill Biden at the White House.
The Covid-19 pandemic torpedoed the snow-covered event each of the last two years but a springtime version was held eight months ago.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (pictured with Olena Zelenska) and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are also among the speakers
Ms Zelenska arrived at the airport in Zurich, Switzerland yesterday before attending the WEF meeting today
Rescue team work among the rubble of a damaged residential building hit by shelling in Dnipro, southeastern Ukraine, 14 January 2023
Davos attendees are faced with global strife including Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has killed thousands of civilians, displaced millions, and disrupted food and fuel markets worldwide.
Adding to the gloom are an economic slowdown and a warming world, with the week-long event of big ideas and backroom deal-making prioritising such problems but never making clear how much concrete action emerges to help reach the forum’s stated ambition of ‘improving the state of the world’.
In a reminder of the fragility of the planet amid climate change, a giant illuminated wall featuring colourful, AI-conceived art derived from real images of coral reefs was one of the innovations welcoming attendees, showing how technology can immortalise images of natural beauty that might vanish one day.
Dozens of sessions on Tuesday will take up issues as diverse as gender parity, the return of manufacturing, the green transition, efforts to end tuberculosis and the intersection of food, water and energy, which will feature actor Idris Elba.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He are also among the speakers.
The gathering comes just days after a Russian missile hit an apartment building in the south-eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing at least 40 people in one of the deadliest single attacks in months.
Ukrainians have reacted to such tragedies during nearly a year of war with unbowed defiance, anger and determination to fight back.
Mr Zelensky, after traveling to Washington himself last month to reinvigorate support for Ukraine in his first known trip abroad since the invasion, will be beamed in by video on Wednesday to complement the in-person delegation of his wife and officials such as Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko, who urged company leaders to shun business with Russia.
‘Stop trade with Russia: Every dollar that you send to Russia is bloody money,’ he told reporters on Monday.
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