Lea Hartmann, Nicola Imfeld, Fabienne Kinzelmann and Christian Kolbe from Davos
Davos GR is blue and yellow. At the entrance to the town, the WEF visitors are greeted by a large banner with the official coat of arms colors of the municipality. They are the same colors as those of the Ukrainian flag: an iconic coincidence. Three months after the start of the war, the first day of the conference was all about the country suffering from the Russian attack.
“Today alone we lost 87 people and the future of Ukraine will be without these 87 people,” said Volodymyr Zelensky (44) in a video speech. The Ukrainian President has criticized the talks and meetings in Davos while his country is struggling to survive. He accused foreign countries of having ignored earlier warnings from Ukraine – with fatal consequences. “If there had been this unity, this pressure on governments and companies earlier, would Russia have started this war? I’m sure the answer to that question is no.”
Deputy Yevheniia Kravchuk: “Russia is challenging the entire western world”(01:50)
Selenski wants an oil embargo, bank exclusion and IT sanctions
It cannot be that sanctions are only taken when something bad happens. Financial, political and military aid is all the more valuable the sooner it comes. “If we had gotten all this by the end of February, tens of thousands of lives would have been saved.”
Zelensky called for maximum sanctions against Russia: an oil embargo, the suspension of all Russian banks from payment transactions and sanctions against the IT sector. Russian assets would have to be tracked down, confiscated or frozen. A central point of his speech was the reconstruction of Ukraine, which he wants to tackle as quickly as possible.
The WEF participants applauded the virtual Selenski. Other representatives of Ukraine were there in person. Such as Yevheniya Kravchuk (36), a leading MP from Zelensky’s party.
“The President said exactly the right thing. Any head of state or government, any business leader can choose to support Ukraine every morning,” Kravchuk told Blick. She took the train to Warsaw for 19 hours, then boarded a plane to Switzerland to persuade WEF participants to put maximum pressure on Russia.
“In the middle of Europe, someone is killing children, raping women”
Kravchuk wears a white blouse with Vyshyvanka, a traditional embroidery pattern from her homeland. She brought back a piece of an artillery shell from the street in Kyiv. “In the middle of Europe someone is killing children, raping women, kidnapping people, putting them in concentration camps. This is sheer horror. There is only black and white in this conflict and you cannot be somewhere in the middle,” she says, referring to Switzerland.
Whoever is in Davos can hardly ignore that. Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine everywhere: The Ukrainian First Lady has a virtual appearance in the Ukraine House, war crimes are shown in the Russia House and “crypto queen” Olga Feldmeier organizes the House of Ukraine on Wednesday. The appearance of the Klitschko brothers on Monday also attracted a lot of attention. Vitali Klitschko (50), Mayor of Kyiv, addressed his words to the audience. “We defend you all,” he said. Ukraine is paying the highest price for this: human lives. “It is therefore important that you continue to support Ukraine,” he pleaded.
What can Switzerland do?
Selenski and his comrades have not yet recaptured Ukraine, but they have gained attention in Davos. “It was a very powerful speech that made it clear to us that we shouldn’t get used to it. Because the war is a bitter reality for many people in Ukraine,” said Robert Habeck (52), German Vice Chancellor and Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy, after the Ukrainian President’s appearance.
Federal President Ignazio Cassis (61) was also impressed by the speech. The Graubünden government councilor Christian Rathgeb (52) was thoughtful: “Selenski called on us all to think every day about how we can help Ukraine.”
How Switzerland can help is clear to Ukrainians. They need money – and guns. That is “the best humanitarian aid,” says Ukrainian parliamentarian Kravchuk. Behind the scenes, Germany and the USA are putting pressure on Switzerland to approve deliveries of tank ammunition. It is said that Switzerland got lost intellectually.
So far, however, it is not foreseeable that Switzerland will change its mind on this matter. In his speech at the WEF, President Cassis emphasized the red lines in Switzerland. These are stipulated by the law of neutrality. International cooperation is allowed – but membership in military alliances and arms deliveries to warring parties are not.