Davos | Zelensky courts political and economic leaders

(Davos) Between messages of hope and alarmist warnings, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is fighting in Davos, on stage and behind the scenes, to guarantee the continuation of Western aid for his war against the “predator” Putin.

Almost two years after the Russian invasion, and with a front line generally immobile for several months, the risk of fatigue is growing. And other conflicts compete for the attention of Western allies.

At the World Economic Forum, where he spoke for the first time in person and where he was widely applauded, Mr. Zelensky warned against the temptation to “freeze” the conflict in Ukraine, because “everything is confiscated.” frozen one day ends up reviving.”

And to castigate in passing the regular calls from Westerners to avoid any “escalation”. “For us, every “step of escalation” sounds like “You will win” to Putin,” he said.

However, “it is not only the security of Ukraine”, it is “the security of the European continent”, he insisted during a meeting with journalists, brandishing the red rag of a extension of the conflict to NATO countries.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is absent from Davos but retorted Thursday that the initiative on the front was now “entirely” in favor of his country, during a meeting broadcast on Russian television. He assured that the Ukrainian state risked suffering an “irreparable blow” if the fighting continued and accused Kyiv of “refusing to negotiate” an end to the conflict with Moscow.

“Summit” on peace

If Volodymyr Zelensky remains open to peace negotiations, it is on his own terms. In many of the bilateral meetings he had on Tuesday, he encouraged his political interlocutors to participate in preparations for a “summit” on peace, which Switzerland agreed to organize this week but which the Ukrainian president does not want. invite Russia.

During one such meeting, which Kyiv called “substantial,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States remains “committed to maintaining” its “support,” despite difficult negotiations in the US Congress. on a new envelope.

Donald Trump, who is the favorite for the Republican nomination for the American presidential election, has openly said he is opposed to more aid, seeing it as a waste in the face of a probable Russian victory.

Washington will work until “Russia fails and Ukraine wins,” Jake Sullivan, the White House national security advisor, told Mr. Zelensky on Tuesday.

“Ukrainians need predictable funding throughout 2024 and beyond,” added the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, two weeks before a European summit focused on financial aid to Kyiv which promises to be particularly delicate due to Hungary’s veto threats.

Planes and money to rebuild

Volodymyr Zelensky is calling for more weapons for his country, particularly fighter jets that would help him gain “air superiority” over Russia.

But Ukraine also needs money to rebuild its cities and its economy.

Mr. Zelensky calls for placing Russian nuclear industry under sanctions and handing over frozen Russian assets to Ukraine.

“We must use this money,” in particular to renovate “schools, houses, bomb shelters, hospitals, universities, churches” destroyed by Russian strikes, he told journalists.

But it also relies on private capital.

He thus participated on Tuesday morning in a closed-door meeting with big bosses, in which “the largest financial funds on the planet” were represented, said the Ukrainian presidency – mentioning among others JPMorgan, BlackRock and ArcelorMittal

Kyiv’s hope is that these big names “attract a large number of investors and international groups” to Ukraine, the presidency commented.

“We need normal investments, by absolutely clear, predictable, clean companies”, which would also increase the chances of Ukrainians who have gone abroad to return home, argued Volodymyr Zelensky from the podium. “Please strengthen our economy and we will strengthen your security.” »

He also recalled the role that his country could play in guaranteeing food security, in particular thanks to its cereal export corridor in the Black Sea.

source site-59