A large Ukrainian delegation of ministers and mayors, headed by Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska, began a major effort Monday at the World Economic Forum in Davos to lobby for greater Western aid and weapons deliveries.
“That’s why I’m here,” the mayor of Kyiv, former heavyweight champion boxer Vitali Klitschko, told reporters when asked about the need for fresh help. “That’s why it’s very important to talk directly… it’s very important to have a personal connection.”
The annual Davos meeting in the Swiss Alps brings together hundreds of heads of government, ministers and thousands of business leaders, with the NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg set to appear on Wednesday.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is one of the biggest themes of this year’s summit, which kicks off formally on Monday evening.
Zelenska is set to speak on Tuesday in one of the opening sessions in person, while her husband is scheduled to speak via videolink at events on the sidelines of the forum on Wednesday and Thursday.
The mayors of several other cities including Mykolaiv and Lviv are scheduled to attend, as well as the economy, culture and digital affairs ministers among others, making the Ukrainian team one of the biggest national delegations at the event.
“Right now the economy in Ukraine is totally destroyed, destroyed infrastructure, destroyed normal life of our citizens,” Klitschko told reporters in English.
The war was “a big tragedy because Putin has the sick idea to rebuild the Soviet empire. We lived in the empire and we don’t want to go back to USSR. We see our future as part of the European family,” he added.
Russian officials and business leaders have not been invited to Davos, with many of them under travel bans and EU sanctions in any case.