Ukraine first lady calls for international unity to end war

Davos, Switzerland, Jan 17 (EFE).- The first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska, on Tuesday urged global businesses and political leaders meeting in Davos this week to use their influence and to show resolve and unity in confronting Russia’s aggression against her country.


“I am meeting at the Davos forum because deep inside we believe there is no global problem that humanity and mankind would not be able to resolve,” Zelenska said, adding that “unity brings peace back.”


“If people come together,” she said, “we believe the world will unite in peace.”

Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine speaks during the 53rd annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, 17 January 2023. EFE/EPA/GIAN EHRENZELLER

Zelenska said she delivered a letter from her husband to Xi Jinping, who has met with Putin since the war began


Zelenska, whose appearance in Davos was only confirmed hours beforehand due to security concerns, was one of the main speakers on the first working day of the World Economic Forum gathering, which runs until Friday.


During her speech, she said she had delivered letters from her husband, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to several world leaders, including the presidents of China, Xi Jinping, the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Switzerland, Alain Berset.


The first lady, who has been a key figure in championing Ukraine’s cause on the international stage, said that she had delivered the letter addressed to Xi to China’s vice premier Liu He, who is participating in the Davos meetings.


Those addressed to the European leader and the Swiss president were delivered personally, she said.


Switzerland abandoned its traditional neutrality towards the war in Ukraine and joined European Union sanctions against Russia, but still refuses to allow countries to which it has sold arms to send them on to Ukraine.


Xi is the most important political leader to have met with Russian president Vladimir Putin since the beginning of the war. While China has repeatedly spoken out in favor of peace, it has stopped short of denouncing Moscow for its invasion.


Zelenska warned the auditorium packed with global political, corporate and business leaders that Russia would not limit itself to Ukraine in the pursuit of its ambitions and that the next step would be “to go after others.”


“We are facing a threat of the collapse of a world as we know it, the way that we are accustomed to it and to what we aspire,” she said.


But she told the audience that “your combined influence is greater than the challenges” and that only with unity can peace be secured, asking how the world can expect to achieve common goals – such as tackling the climate crisis – if it is unable to stop Russia’s artillery attacks on Ukrainian civilians.


“How will they achieve climate neutrality if they have not even stopped the burning of entire cities in Ukraine?” she said.


Over 2,700 leaders and experts from more than 120 countries, including 50 heads of state, are gathering in the Swiss Alpine town of Davos for annual meetings held to address various global issues. EFE
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