Brute force will once again rule the world if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is allowed to go unanswered, Volodymyr Zelensky told a meeting of global elites in a powerful speech to open this week’s Davos summit in Switzerland.
The Ukrainian President told delegates that their summit will become pointless if Putin is allowed to win the war because he is ‘not interested in our thoughts’ and ‘brute force… does not talk, it kills.’
Zelensky’s speech came at the start of four days of talks during which Ukraine is expected to launch a global charm offensive in order to secure economic and military backing to ensure its survival.
Meanwhile Russia will not been at the meeting after organisers banned Moscow from sending a delegation in just the latest signal of how isolated Putin has become on the world stage.
Brute force will once again rule the world and summits such as Davos will become pointless if Russia’s invasion of Ukraine succeeds, Volodymyr Zelensky told the conference today
Russia House, a conference centre in Davos, Switzerland, typically used by the Russian delegation, has been turned into ‘War Crimes House’ after the country was banned
‘The main theme for this year’s Davos [summit] is: “History at a Turning Point”‘, Zelensky told a packed auditorium on Monday morning.
‘This year, the words ‘turning point’ are more than a rhetorical talking point. This year is really the year when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world.
‘If so, the powerful are not interested in our thoughts and there is no further use for meeting in Davos.
‘Brute force seeks nothing but the subjugation of those who it seeks to subdue and it does not talk, it kills, as Russia does in Ukraine just as we speak today.
Recalling the horrors of Russia’s invasion to date, Zelesnky added: ‘Instead of peaceful cities there are only black ruins, instead of normal trade [there are] seas full of mines and blocked ports, instead of tourists [there are] closed skies and the sound of Russian bombs and cruise missiles.
‘This is what the world would look like if that turning moment does not have a proper response from humanity, it would resemble a large set of war crimes.’
Zelensky also pointed to Russia House – a conference venue in the city which typically hosts the delegation – which this year has been turned into ‘Russian war crimes house.’
He said this is an example of ‘what Russia brings to the world’, while urging leaders to condemn the atrocities.
WEF founder Klaus Schwab said last week that Davos would do what it can to support Ukraine and its recovery.
‘Russia’s aggression on the country will be seen in future history books as the breakdown of the post-World War II and post-Cold War order,’ he said.
More than 50 heads of state or government will be among the 2,500 delegates, ranging from business leaders to academics and civil society figures.
Ukraine has dispatched the second-largest contingent of any country to Davos as part of a global charm offensive to secure backing for its fight-back against Russia
Military snipers stand guard over Davos’s main conference centre, as the world’s elite arrive for a four-day conference themed ‘History at a Turning Point’
A Swiss sharpshooter looks out over the crowd of delegates arriving in Davos as the conference gets underway without a Russian delegation
Some of the biggest names include Germany’s new chancellor, Olaf Scholz, European Union chief Ursula von der Leyen, NATO head Jens Stoltenberg and US climate envoy John Kerry.
While the summit is back, it lacks its usual snowy backdrop as the Omicron variant forced this year’s January meeting to be postponed until now. Instead, rain is forecast all week.
Climate change and concerns about the economic recovery from the pandemic are also at the forefront of the Davos talks.
Inflation has become a major concern as energy and food prices have soared further since Russia invaded Ukraine, raising fears of hunger in countries dependent on wheat from the region.
Global charity Oxfam warned Monday that 263 million people could sink into extreme poverty this year, at a rate of one million every 33 hours.
By contrast, 573 new billionaires have emerged during the pandemic, or one every 30 hours, Oxfam said as it called for taxes on the rich.
‘Billionaires are arriving in Davos to celebrate an incredible surge in their fortunes,’ Oxfam executive director Gabriela Bucher said in a statement.
‘The pandemic and now the steep increases in food and energy prices have, simply put, been a bonanza for them,’ Bucher said.
‘Meanwhile, decades of progress on extreme poverty are now in reverse and millions of people are facing impossible rises in the cost of simply staying alive,’ she said.
Ukraine is expected to use the conference to plead for continued military and financial support to win its fight-back against Russia’s invasion