We should not be afraid to set new precedents - speech by the President of Ukraine at the World Economic Forum in Davos
Dear Mr. Executive Chairman, Professor Schwab,
Dear President Cassis,
Ladies and Gentlemen!
I am grateful for this opportunity to take part in the discussion at the Forum. The general theme of Davos this year is: History at a Turning Point: Government Policies and Business Strategies. And this year the words "turning point" are not just a rhetorical figure.
This is really the moment when it is decided whether brute force will rule the world.
If it reigns, our thoughts won’t matter to it. And we may no longer convene in Davos. Because what for?
Brute force seeks nothing but the subjugation of those it wants to subdue. And it does not discuss, but kills at once, as Russia is doing in Ukraine right now, right at this time when we are talking.
By the way, please look at the building of the former Russian House in Davos. It has been turned into a house of Russian war crimes.
And this is an example of their transformation. What Russia has done to itself by becoming a state of war crimes. And what it brings to the world. Inspiring other potential aggressors.
Instead of successful peaceful cities - black ruins. Instead of normal trade - mined sea and blocked ports in Ukraine. Instead of tourism - closed skies and thousands of Russian bombs and cruise missiles.
This is what the world will look like if humanity misses this turning point. It will look like a very large collection of war crimes.
So, history remembers many moments when everything changed dramatically.
It remembers, for example, how just a few shots can lead to millions of casualties. If these were the shots on June 28, 1914 in Sarajevo.
History remembers how much grief one person’s evil can cause if he sees that he is not being resisted enough. As it was, for example, in 1938 in Munich.
Historical twists were noticeable and not as much. But it was always necessary to react to them. Trying to prepare for other historical upheavals - as they say, to soften the blow. Or - trying to heal the wounds of catastrophes that were behind one or another historical turn.
And now we have a large collection of such reactions: the UN Charter with all units of the Organization, the OSCE, the IAEA, the WTO and many, many other important institutions. But are they enough to respond to what we are facing today?
And is it enough now to try to adapt those institutions to modern challenges?
Definitely not. We need to change the approach.
Not to react, but to act. And act preventively. And not only to adapt what we have to the new realities, but also to create new tools. New precedents.
Look at what Ukraine has already done.
We have set a historical precedent for courage. Without listening to those who said that our defense would not last longer than a few days.
We have stopped the Russian army, which was called the second in the world, and at the cost of heavy fighting and thousands of lives, we are gradually driving the occupiers out of our land.
But would we have to do that if we had been listened to last year and if the full range of sanctions that can knock down any aggressor had been applied fairly and preventively against the Russian Federation?
I'm sure the answer is “no”. Preventing war would be guaranteed if the world's actions had been preventive rather than responsive.
Ukraine has set another precedent in these three months. A precedent for the unprecedented unity of the democratic world around the emotion of genuine admiration for Ukrainian courage and around the understanding that freedom must be fought for.
And now hundreds of millions of people in democracies are putting pressure, supporting and putting pressure on the governments and companies to limit relations with the aggressor state, Russia, and to help the people they have attacked.
But this is happening only now, although Russia started a war against Ukraine in 2014.
We are grateful for such support, but if it had happened then - immediately - this unity and this pressure on governments, on companies for the struggle for freedom, would Russia have started this full-scale war and inflicted all these losses to Ukraine and the world? I am sure that the answer to this question is “no” as well.
Now we see that the world listens and believes Ukraine. But there is also a certain expectation in the world how this situation will be resolved.
What tools will work? What new can we create to prevent such aggressions? And how do we stop the brute force that has challenged everything we really value?
That's what a turning point means.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
Don't wait for the fatal strikes. Don't wait until Russia uses special weapons - chemical, biological and, God forbid, nuclear.
Do not give the aggressor the impression that the world will not show enough resistance.
Protect freedom and normal, useful for all peaceful order in the world immediately and in full!
That's what sanctions should be. Maximum.
So that Russia and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against a neighbor knows exactly what this is leading to.
And I think there are no such sanctions against Russia yet. And they must be imposed.
Russian oil embargo. Complete blocking of all banks without exception - all. Complete abandonment of the Russian IT sector. Complete cessation of trade with the aggressor.
This should be a precedent of sanctions pressure that will work convincingly for decades to maintain peace.
It is necessary to set a precedent for the complete exit of all foreign businesses from the Russian market. So that your brands are not associated with war crimes. That your offices, accounts, commodities are not used by war criminals in their bloody interests.
Values must matter.
Especially since everyone suffers losses when a full-scale war begins and global markets are destabilized due to someone’s neglect of values.
For our part, we offer every company that leaves the Russian market to continue operating in Ukraine. You will get access not only to our market of 40 million consumers, but also to the common market of Europe. And at the same time - your brands, positions will only be enhanced due to the fact that you really support the protection of freedom.
Our representatives here in Davos can inform each and every one of you about the details of the prospects that Ukraine opens for businesses.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
We offer the world to set a precedent for rebuilding the country after the war, which will show everyone who dreams of destroying the life of a neighbor that the war doesn’t bring the expected result.
I invite you to take part in this reconstruction. The amount of work is enormous. We have more than half a trillion dollars in losses. Tens of thousands of objects were destroyed. We need to rebuild entire cities, entire industries.
And we offer a special - historically significant - model of reconstruction. When each of the partner countries or partner cities or partner companies will have the opportunity - historical one - to take patronage over a particular region of Ukraine, city, community or industry.
Britain, Denmark, the European Union and other leading international actors have already chosen a specific direction for patronage in reconstruction.
Thanks to this model of relations, post-war reconstruction can be fast, efficient and high-quality.
And this will not only attract the world's best specialists - architects, engineers, builders, developers, managers and others. It will also be the largest opportunity for economic leap in Europe since World War II.
And I hope that by the beginning of the international conference in Lugano in July this year dedicated to the post-war reconstruction of Ukraine, which Mr. Cassis spoke about, all our partner countries and most of the world's leading companies will have formed their own packages of proposals.
By the way, given the presence of President Cassis today, I would like to thank Switzerland for organizing this Conference in Lugano and supporting our efforts.
I would also like to note the efforts of Mrs. Ursula von der Leyen, in particular the proposal to create a Reconstruction Platform, which will be managed jointly by Ukraine and the European Commission and will direct European Union resources to restore normal life in our country.
However the list of new precedents needed will not be complete without a few more important decisions.
There must be a precedent of punishment for the aggressor and investment in a peaceful life.
Russian assets scattered in different jurisdictions must be found, arrested or frozen, and then confiscated and sent to a special Fund from which all victims of this war can receive compensation.
Of course, this is not easy. But after that, there will be no motivation left for the various aggressors to do what Russia has done and continues to do.
If the aggressor loses everything, it definitely deprives him of motivation to start a war.
Let's move on.
Any response to the mass famine is overdue by definition. The famine should be stopped only preventively - when it has not yet begun.
But now there is no such tool in the world.
We propose to create an organization of responsible and democratic food-exporting states that can act with respect for human rights and global trade rules.
Our motivation is very simple.
Whatever the turning points in history, humanity must have insurance against famine.
And Ukraine is ready to provide a platform for the activities of such a new organization - a definitely needed one.
And the last point.
You know, this war of Russia against Ukraine convinces everyone that aid to the attacked state is more valuable the sooner it is provided.
Weapons, finances, political support, sanctions against Russia - if we had received them one hundred percent of our needs in February, the result would be tens of thousands of lives saved.
That is why Ukraine needs all the weapons we ask for, not just the ones we are given.
That is why Ukraine needs finances. That's at least $ 5 billion a month. And all the funds needed for reconstruction.
That is why the United24 Ukraine Recovery Fund was established. And we encourage you to join the support using this platform. Ukrainian state platform. For each donor, we give a specific proposal - how to help and where to send funds. Where the priority is now.
The target nature of the work is an absolute priority.
And in the future, under this brand, United24, we propose to create a global structure that can provide sufficient support within 24 hours for any country that has suffered a military attack, natural disaster or, for example, a pandemic.
That is, we offer a new format of security guarantees. Based on what we went through.
What we are going through now.
There must be something that sets a precedent of absolutely timely assistance. To everyone who needs it. To preserve peace, to preserve life, to preserve social stability. That is, all the necessary elements for a normal economy.
Like, for example, the 911 service, there must be a United24 that guarantees security on a global scale.
Ladies and Gentlemen!
George Marshall, a well-remembered man, said in 1947: "Our policy is directed not against any country or doctrine but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. Its purpose should be the revival of a working economy in the world so as to permit the emergence of political and social conditions in which free institutions can exist."
These words are still relevant today. My proposals are directed in the same way - against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos. And of course against the war unleashed by Russia, which brings nothing but hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos.
To many in the world. Not just us.
Therefore, in order to guarantee peace and tranquility, we must all act quickly and preventively. We must not be afraid to set new precedents. This is exactly what the world has long had to learn at various turning points, for which it paid a high price. This was the price for the fact that the world only reacted, not acted preventively.
So, now we can do it differently. Finally in the right way.
Glory to Ukraine!