Olena Zelenska arrives in Davos to build support for Ukraine

Olena Zelenska arrives in Davos to build support for Ukraine

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska arrives in Switzerland to build support for Kyiv at the Davos meeting of global elite where Russia’s deal-making tycoons are all conspicuously absent

  • Olena Zelenska landed in Zurich today ahead of her Davos summit speech 
  • Ukrainian officials will attempt to rally war support among global elite
  • Russian oligarchs who were once a fixture of the summit will not be present 

Olena Zelenska has arrived in Switzerland to rally support for Ukraine from the global elite at the Davos summit.

The first lady of Ukraine stepped onto the tarmac in Zurich today ahead of the 52nd annual World Economic Forum (WEF) at the high-end ski resort, attended by world leaders and business tycoons.

She is expected to make a speech on Tuesday while other Ukraine officials will speak on panels in the bid to to forge greater unity at the summit where Russia’s oligarchs are conspicuously absent.

The WEF was once the deal-making playground for Moscow’s billionaires but since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine glitzy parties and investment meetings with Russian politicians, executives and academics are no more.

Olena Zelenska has arrived in Switzerland to rally support for Ukraine from the global elite at the Davos summit

By contrast, a heavy contingent of Ukraine’s closest allies from the Baltics, Nordic countries and eastern Europe, along with the European Union and NATO leaders, are all attending ahead of a crunch meeting in Ramstein, Germany on Friday that should see further sophisticated weaponry pledged to Ukraine.

Zelenska landed after Russian airstrikes destroyed a civilian apartment block in Dnipro, killing 40 people. 

Meanwhile today, Russia and Belarus began joint military exercises, which have triggered fears in Kyiv and the West that Moscow could use its ally to launch a new ground offensive in Ukraine.

‘On my way from Lithuania to @Davos where I have been invited to speak. Lithuania is a very good friend of Ukraine, so you know what I will be saying. #ArmUkraineNow,’ Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said on Twitter.

Of the G7 leaders, only German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose country is under pressure to deliver state-of-the art Leopard tanks to Ukraine, will address attendees.

She is expected to make a speech on Tuesday while other Ukraine officials will speak on panels (pictured with her husband Volodymyr)

The first lady of Ukraine stepped onto the tarmac in Zurich today ahead of the 52nd annual World Economic Forum

A photograph shows a sign of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at the Congress centre

‘The absence of the big powers leaves the WEF as a platform for middle and smaller nations, who want to speak up and be heard amid Russia’s aggression,’ one European diplomat said.

Ukraine, which dominated the WEF’s last big meeting in May, has sent another high-level delegation. 

This will focus on putting place the blocks for its future reconstruction.

Volodymyr Zelensky said late last year after talks with Larry Fink, chief executive of the world’s largest investment fund BlackRock, that businesses were ready to invest in Ukraine’s recovery and it would set out its stall at Davos.

‘The posture and prospects of Ukraine will be presented there,’ Zelenskiy said in December.

Ukraine House on the town’s main street is showcasing an exhibition showing the destruction of the city of Kherson after it was recovered by Ukraine’s forces from Russian occupation.

Emergency personnel work among debris at the site where a building was heavily damaged in recent shelling in Donetsk

It is hosting a concert, photo exhibits, seminars, cocktail events and other meetings this week to drum up support for Ukraine’s efforts to drive out Russian forces.

For the WEF, a forum designed to encourage peace and economic integration, fulfilling that mandate and remaining impartial may prove tricky. 

It has one panel session on mapping Russia’s trajectories, but none of its speakers are Russian.

The slowdown in the global economy will be a major theme at Davos, with officials ranging from International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde speaking in sessions.

Inflation soared as the world reopened from the pandemic and Russia invaded Ukraine, driving up food and energy prices, and though it has started to slow in major economies like the U.S. and those in Europe, inflation is still painfully high.

Georgieva said in an IMF blog post Monday that divides between nations – the theme at Davos this year is ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’ – are putting the global economy at risk by leaving ‘everyone poorer and less secure.’

Georgieva urged strengthening trade, helping vulnerable countries deal with debt and ramping up climate action.

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