Ukraine First Lady To Give Rare Address At Davos Forum: As the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum gets underway in the snowy Swiss town of Davos on Tuesday, Ukraine’s first lady will deliver a rare international address as part of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and his administration to acquire more foreign weapons to defend against Russia’s invasion.
As Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, and hundreds of world leaders, corporate titans, academics, and activists gathered in Davos, Switzerland, for the annual winter meeting, security teams fanned out, and snowplows cleared the streets. Each of the previous two years’ snow-covered events was derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but a spring edition was held eight months ago.
Attendees at Davos are confronted with international conflicts, such as Russia’s war in Ukraine, which has killed thousands of civilians, displaced millions, and shaken food and fuel markets globally. This conflict epitomizes how modern society is still perplexed by war and bloodshed.
The world is getting warmer, and the economy is slowing down, adding to the gloom. The week-long talkfest of big ideas and backroom negotiations prioritizes these issues. Still, it is never clear how much concrete action is taken to advance the forum’s goal of “improving the state of the world.”
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In a reminder of the planet’s fragility amid climate change, a giant illuminated wall featuring colorful, AI-conceived art derived from actual images of coral reefs was one of the whiz-bang innovations welcoming attendees, showing how technology can immortalize pictures of natural beauty that might vanish one day.
Dozens of sessions Tuesday will take up subjects as diverse as gender parity, the revival of manufacturing, the green transition, efforts to end tuberculosis, and the nexus of food, water, and energy, featuring actor Idris Elba. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will speak.
With war on the same continent, on many concerned minds in Davos was the destruction from a Russian missile strike that hit an apartment building in the southeastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing at least 40 people in one of the worst single attacks in months.
Ukrainians have reacted to such tragedies throughout nearly a year of conflict with unbowed resistance, anger, and desire to fight back.
Zelenska’s statement will come after she told CNN through an interpreter on Sunday that despite Russia’s missile strikes that have battered Ukrainian energy infrastructure and civilian areas in recent months, “we recognize that upon carrying on for a year, we are capable of persisting 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 clamoring for: weapons like tanks and anti-rocket defenses as well as more significant pressure to isolate further and squeeze Russia’s economy.
France, the U.K., the U.S., and other nations are threatening to deliver increasingly powerful armaments to Ukraine, such as tanks or armored fighting vehicles.
Increased military aid has come amid pleas from Ukrainian officials and notables. During a week-long visit to Washington in July, Zelenska met with American first lady Jill Biden at the White House and requested more American air defense systems from Congress.
Zelenskyy, who traveled to Washington last month to reaffirm support for Ukraine in his first known overseas trip since the invasion, will be joined by his wife and other officials, including Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko and Minister of Digital Transformation Mykhailo Fedorov, in person on Wednesday. The latter appeared committed to convincing corporate executives to avoid doing business with Russia.
“Stop trade with Russia: Every dollar you send to Russia is bloody money,” he told reporters Monday.
According to a list created by the Yale School of Management, about 1,000 corporations have scaled back their activities in Russia, while several Western multinationals continue to do so.
Russia is on the forum’s blacklist for the foreseeable future.
“We made it clear in the spring that it is now up to Russia,” forum President Borge Brenda, a former Norwegian foreign minister, said Sunday. “If they again comply with the U.N. Charter, if they again comply with basic humanitarian law, and don’t break international law, they, of course, will come back.”
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