Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an emotional appeal to the leaders at the conference World Economic Forum In Davos, Switzerland, he urged them not to allow this Russia's war in Ukraine To become “frozen”.
Speaking in person at the conference for the first time since Russia launched its full-scale invasion nearly two years ago, Zelensky said Ukraine had defied expectations in holding off Moscow's forces for so long and that its allies “know what is needed” to allow “the military operation to advance.” Land,” which has been in short supply for months.
At the beginning of Zelensky's speech, which he delivered in English, he said he understood that many in the audience would ask difficult questions: “When will the war end? Is World War III possible? Is it time to negotiate with Putin?”
“Any frozen conflict will eventually reignite,” Zelensky warned, noting how Russia renewed its aggression after “attempts to freeze the war in Donbas” after 2014. Instead, he said, Ukraine needs to be supplied with more weapons to achieve “ A fair solution.” And stable peace.
Putin's war was less than a year old when Zelensky last spoke in Davos via video link in January 2023. Ukraine had recently liberated cities Kherson And KharkivOccupied in the first weeks of the war, Kiev began preparing for a broader counterattack that it hoped would achieve greater gains.
A year later, those gains were achieved Failed to be achieved. Commander of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, General Valery ZaluznyHe warned in November that the war had instead entered a “stalemate”, and that without technological improvements “there is unlikely to be a deep and beautiful breakthrough”, but rather a balance between devastating casualties and destruction.
Meanwhile, Ukraine's allies were scattered Israel's war against Hamas – Which threatens to spark in Regional fire -And soon many will be more distracted by their own elections. Also speaking on Tuesday in Davos, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen described 2024 as “the biggest election year in history.”
But despite these setbacks, von der Leyen stressed that Ukraine far exceeded expectations at the beginning of the war, which she said was a reason for optimism.
“We have not forgotten that when Russia invaded Ukraine, many feared that Kiev would fall within a few days, and the rest of the country would fall within weeks. This did not happen. Instead, Russia lost almost half of its military capabilities,” von der Leyen said. Claiming that Russia has failed militarily, economically and diplomatically.
Speaking later on Tuesday, Zelensky echoed that message, saying Ukraine began its defense “at a time when almost no one in the world believed in Ukraine. But we turned the tables, so that now the world has stopped believing in Russia.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the Russian invasion was a “military failure.”
“Even Putin's current comrades,” he said Pyongyang And Tehran“They were taking advantage of him” by using his insanity while he still had the techniques and resources to pay it forward. “No one believes in their future or invests in it.”
While Zelensky expressed gratitude to his allies, he also criticized their cowardice and slowness in refusing to supply Ukraine with better weapons sooner. He said the West's fears that this would lead to an “escalation” of the Russian war deprived Ukraine of the opportunity to make military gains and encouraged Putin.
“Every 'Don't escalate' sounded to us like 'You will win' to Putin,” Zelensky told the heads of state gathered in Davos. “Nothing has damaged our alliances more than this concept,” he said, stressing that the West should have been quicker to expose Putin's bluff and Moscow's baseless threats.
“We asked for new types of weapons, and the response was ‘no escalation.’ But then the weapons arrived and there was no escalation.”
Zelensky did not mention specific weapons that he claimed Ukraine's allies were slow to provide. but The allies spent months debating whether to provide Ukraine, for example, with the necessary aid. Cluster munitions, Leopard 2 tanksAnd F16 fighter jets. Each time they expressed fears that Putin would use arms supplies as an excuse to “escalate” the war, which Zelensky said wasted time and lives.
Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images
Zelensky said the West fears that the supply of weapons will escalate the war, costing Ukraine time, lives and opportunities.
He said: “Because of the slogan ‘No to escalation’, time was lost.” “The lives of many of our most experienced warriors, who have fought since 2014, have been lost. Some opportunities have been lost.”
Zelensky urged his allies not to make the same mistakes again: “Every decrease in pressure on the aggressor adds years to the war, but every investment in the defender’s confidence shortens the war.”
He added: “We must achieve air superiority for Ukraine, just as we gained air superiority in the Black Sea. We can do it. Partners know what is needed and in what quantities. This will allow progress to be made on the ground.”
Speaking in Davos shortly before Zelensky, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that only continued support for Ukraine would make Putin relent.
“What we can do is maximize the likelihood that at some point President Putin will understand that continuing this war will have a high price, and then at some point he will have to sit down and negotiate some kind of just and lasting peace,” Stoltenberg said. “Where Ukraine prevails as an independent state.” Sovereign.”
“The paradox is that if we want it to happen, the way to get there is [to send] More weapons to Ukraine. The more credible we are in our military support, the more likely diplomats are to succeed.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”