At Davos, Zelensky calls for maximum sanctions on Russia
Nearly three months to the day since Russia began its assault on Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky appeared virtually at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday, asking global leaders to use the harshest possible financial sanctions against the aggressor. He proposed a total embargo on Russian oil, the worldwide banning of any business with the country’s banks, and the withdrawal of all foreign businesses.
This plea came after Zelensky stressed that the invasion of Ukraine and the tens of thousands of lives lost in the war could have been avoided had other nations enacted preventative sanctions instead of imposing them in response.
“These are what the sanctions should be—they should be maximum so that Russia and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor would clearly know the immediate consequences for their actions,” Zelensky said. “I believe there are still no such sanctions against Russia. There should be a Russian oil embargo. Russian banks should be banned, no exception. There should be an abandonment of the Russian IT sector. There should not be any trade with Russia.”
“This should be a precedent for sanctions, pressure that will work convincingly for the decades to come and would support peace,” he continued. “It is necessary to set a precedent for the complete withdrawal of all foreign businesses from the Russian market so that your brands would not be associated with war crimes.”
Following that exhortation, Zelensky touted the many investment opportunities in rebuilding Ukraine, offering other nations “patronages” for the country’s financial sectors. “We offer every company that leaves the Russian market to continue operating in Ukraine,” he said. “You will have access not only to our market of 14 million consumers but also to the command market of Europe. Your brands, your possessions, they will only increase because you would truly support the protection of freedom. Our representatives here in Davos can inform all of you on the details of the prospects that Ukraine opens for your businesses.”
During the speech, which followed the event’s official opening remarks, Zelensky also called for a fund and coalition that would serve as a global emergency hotline that any nation could call in times of emergencies, such as natural disasters, wars, famines, pandemics, and other crises. This proposal, he said, is an extension of United24, Ukraine’s official rebuilding fund, which makes clear where every dollar will be spent in the efforts.
“We propose to establish a global structure that can, within 24 hours, provide sufficient support to any country that has suffered or faced a military attack, a natural disaster, or a pandemic,” he said. “We offer a new format for security guarantees based on what we have faced, what we went through, and there must be something that sets a precedent for timely assistance to everyone who needs it to save lives, to save social stability, all the necessary elements for a normal economy. For example, something like a 911 service, there has to be a similar service that is called United24, which would guarantee that security on a global scale.”
Zelensky referenced the post-World War II Marshall Plan and its efforts to combat “hunger, poverty, and despair,” saying that Russia’s war affects not only Ukraine but the entire world. “Guaranteeing peace and stability and security requires all of us acting quickly and preventively,” he continued. “We should not be afraid to set new precedents, and this is what the world should learn at various turning points to which it paid a high price. This is the price for the fact that world would only respond but not to act preventively. Now we can do it differently, finally, in the correct way.”
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