Ukraine’s first lady warns Russia will not stop at her country’s border

Davos 2023: ‘How does the world want to achieve climate neutrality when it has not stopped the burning of cities in Ukraine?’

Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelanska, has warned political and business leaders attending the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos on Tuesday that Russia will not stop at her country’s borders if it is not defeated.

“The Russian ingression was never intended to restrict itself at the Ukrainian borders,” Ms Zelenska said in a special address on the first day of the four-day forum in the Swiss Alpine town. “This war can go further and make the crisis, larger, unless the aggressor loses.”

Ms Zelenska, who is attending Davos under heavy security protection almost 11 months after Russia launched war on its western neighbour, said the challenges overshadowing this year’s WEF gathering, such as international food shortages and inflation, will only increase if Russia is not restrained.

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“We are facing a threat of the collapse of the world as we know it, as we are accustomed to – or at least as we aspire,” she said. She called for international support for her husband’s 10-point peace plan outlined in November, which includes the withdrawal of Russian troops and restoration of Ukraine’s state borders, and the establishment of a special tribunal to prosecute Russian war crimes.

Ms Zelenska, who is leading a Ukrainian delegation to Davos, said delegates present “are really, really very influential, but not all of you are using this influence – or you use it in a way that divides even more”.

The address, in Ukrainian, came after a major Russian missile strike on the city of Dnipro on Saturday destroyed an apartment block, killing 43 people. It comes ahead of a highly anticipated meeting of western allies in Ramstein, Germany, on Friday, amid calls from Kyiv for a fresh package of military aid.

Germany is facing pressure to release Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after the UK announced over the weekend it would send 14 of its own Challenger tanks, which would be the first time a western nation has given its own heavy armour to Kyiv.

“How does the world want to achieve climate neutrality when it has not stopped the burning of cities in Ukraine?” Ms Zelenska asked.

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan

Joe Brennan is Markets Correspondent of The Irish Times