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Davos Ukrainian Breakfast: NEWS


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy calls on West at Davos Ukrainian Breakfast: “Give us your weapons, and we will get back what’s ours”

On 19 January 2023, in Davos (Switzerland), the Victor Pinchuk Foundation, and international investment advisory group EastOne, hosted the Ukrainian Breakfast Discussion, their traditional private event organized on the occasion of the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF). 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the audience via video link. Fareed Zakaria, host of Fareed Zakaria GPS on CNN, moderated the discussion. Among the speakers were the Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Lawrence Fink, Chairman & CEO of BlackRock, Bill Ford, Chairman & CEO of General Atlantic, Andrew Forrest, Executive Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, Borys Gudziak, Metropolitan Archbishop of Philadelphia for Ukrainian Catholics in the United States and President of the Ukrainian Catholic University, Oleksandra Matviichuk, Chair of the Center for Civil Liberties, Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, David Rubenstein, Co-Founder & Co-Chairman of the Carlyle Group, David Solomon, Chairman & CEO, Goldman Sachs, Yulia Svyrydenko, 1st Vice Prime Minister of Ukraine. 

In his opening speech, Victor Pinchuk said: “Ukraine fought for independence for many centuries and now we have got a unique chance to get it, because for the first time in our history the entire civilized world supports us. I am sure that 2023 will be one of the most, if not the most, important, decisive and productive years in our centuries-long fight for independence.” 

He also stressed the importance of implementing reforms in Ukraine: “Victory and freedom do not only mean the liberation of territories by military success. We must implement radical institutional reforms, we have to rebuild our country, and we have to create the economy of a new generation.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy joined the discussion via a video link, sending a powerful message to Ukraine’s western partners: “Our goal is to deoccupy all our territories. Crimea is our land, it’s our territory, it’s our sea and mountains. Give us your weapons, and we will get back what’s ours.” 

The Ukrainian president thanked western partners for arms supply, and commented the fact that some states being hesitant to give Kyiv tanks: “There are such moments when there is no room for hesitance or comparisons - when they say that tanks will be given if someone else also does this, when a powerful European actor will provide assistance if someone outside of Europe also provides assistance. I believe that it’s not a good strategy.”

“We need specific systems, and everyone knows which ones, the systems that can work for longer distances. I don’t mean the Russian Federation here, although, everyone understands that Ukrainians will not have warm feelings towards Russians after what they did here, but we are talking about our temporarily occupied territories”, he stressed.

“We are fighting against all the tyranny that calls itself neighbours in public,” Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.

Taking the floor, Rt Hon Boris Johnson called on the political leadership of foreign states to shift their focus from Vladimir Putin’s further plans to beefing up assistance to Ukraine: “What we have to focus on is supporting Ukraine and giving Volodymyr Zelenskyy the tools he needs to finish the job. They can win and they will win.”

“Give them the tanks! There’s absolutely nothing to be lost. We continually underestimated the willingness and the ability of Ukrainians to fight and defend their homeland. We got it wrong at the beginning, we thought that they would be overwhelmed within days. They proved the world completely wrong. They are going to win, we need to help them win as fast as possible. So I would say to everybody - focus on Ukraine, don’t focus on Putin,” he added. 

Rt Hon Boris Johnson downplayed Putin’s nuclear threats: “Putin wants to present it as a nuclear standoff between NATO and Russia. That’s nonsense. He is not going to use nuclear weapons.”

Mark Rutte said: “This is also our fight. Zelenskyy and his team are also fighting our fight. That is why we have to stay strong, we have to stay united. I’m absolutely convinced we will do this till the end. I’m absolutely convinced that Ukraine will win this, because it’s crucial and because they are not alone.”

Andrew Forrest addressed political leaders: “Now is the time to send the tanks. Now is the time to be definitive. Now is the time to protect freedom, civilians, Ukraine and yourselves. Step forward, step forward aggressively, be decisive, this is your moment too.”

Larry Fink shared his projections of expected cost to rebuild Ukraine. According to his estimates, the need will be around 750 billion dollars of economic recovery and aid. “This is a time to construct a model, in which the public sector that will be given the money will work with the private capital.”

“It’s not about rebuilding the old Ukraine, it’s about building a better Ukraine. It is about making sure that when the war is over, Ukraine is strong and the capital is coming into the country,” he added. 

David Solomon elaborated on this topic, saying: “This cannot happen without the public sector and public money partnering with private money. There is no question that as you rebuild, there will be good economic incentives for real return and real investment.”

Bill Ford spoke about the prospect of building a digital future in Ukraine using its human capital: “I think that one thing that would complement the importance of harnessing public and global capital would be harnessing private capital and entrepreneurship, and the human capital that exists in Ukraine to build Ukraine.”

Chrystia Freeland said: “I think really that we should be thanking Ukraine and Ukrainians. What would the world look like if the Ukrainians hadn’t been so terrific?. Imagine if right now there was Putin’s puppet government in Kyiv, who would Poland and Baltic States be feeling? Every single Ukrainian has risen to this occasion. It is a terrific moment. 

John Kerry said: “The people of Ukraine are beyond anything I’ve ever seen in terms of courage and willingness to stand up to aggression, and to say “We are going to be free! This is or country”. Mr Putin, you have made a colossal mistake and an error in judgment trying to go back to the world that existed in 1940’s and 1960’s.”

Taking the floor, David Rubenstein called on the participants in the event to ask themselves: “What can I do more than I have already done today to help Ukraine. What can I do to help other people to get more familiar with Ukraine and lead them to victory? What can I do to sacrifice a bit?”

Oleksandra Matviichuk said: “All this hell that we are facing now is a result of total impunity that Russia has been enjoying for decades in Chechnya, Moldova, Georgia, Mali, Syria, Libya and other countries. We must break the circle of impunity.”

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