Russo-Ukraine war takes center stage at Davos: Live updates

credit…Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Ukraine has launched a new wave of diplomacy to garner support for its military efforts, with President Volodymyr Zelensky urging allies to provide more military aid and First Lady Olena Zelenska challenging leaders gathered at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, to use their influence to help the country.

Their push comes as the war approaches its 12th month and Kyiv warns that Moscow may be making plans for a new ground offensive. Ukraine is already waging intense fighting in the east of the country and facing a disappearing barrage of Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure.

Mr. Zelensky in his evening address on Monday said that a package of new military aid from Britain, including Challenger 2 tanks and a suite of other sophisticated military equipment, “was just what we needed.” He quotes attack on civilians in an apartment building on Saturday in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro, killing at least 44 people, in a sign that Russia is seeking to change the course of the war.

“The fact that Russia is preparing a new attempt to seize the initiative in the war, the fact that the nature of military actions at the front requires new solutions in defense supplies – all this only emphasizes how important it is to coordinate our efforts,” Mr. Zelensky said.

A series of diplomatic meetings this week will offer Ukraine and its allies the opportunity to more closely coordinate support for Kyiv’s military efforts. British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley is visiting Washington on Tuesday and will meet with US Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken. Assembly of Allies of Ukraine known as the Defense Contact Group of Ukraine was scheduled to take place at the US military base in Ramstein, Germany, at the end of the week.

credit…Sascha Steinbach/EPA, via Shutterstock

Ukraine and its allies are increasingly worried that there is a short window to prepare for a possible Russian offensive in the spring. Russia has suffered a series of losses since September when Ukraine regained significant swaths of its territory in the north and east. Russia responded by targeting civilians and infrastructure as they fought a stalemate on the eastern front.

On Sunday, Jens Stoltenberg, Secretary General of NATO said the war was in a “decisive phase” and it pledged to continue its support for Ukraine. This assessment coincides with the opinion of analysts in Institute for the Study of Warresearch group that closely monitors the conflict, which said in your last daily report on Monday that “the Kremlin likely intends to take decisive strategic action in 2023.”

Britain’s decision to send tanks – which the allies had refused to do for months, fearing it would provoke Moscow – increased pressure on Germany to deliver Leopard 2 battle tanks to Ukraine. That decision rests with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said he would do it alone in coordination with Germany’s key allies.

In Davos on Tuesday, Ms Zelenska urged world leaders, CEOs, academics and others at the forum, which opened on Monday, to look around the room and see that it is full of “people who are making an impact, for societies and for the world generally.”

“Not all of us use that influence,” she said, “or sometimes we use it in a way that’s even more divisive.”

In her speech, she outlined a 10-point peace plan she had was announced earlier by Mr. Zelenski in November. The plan includes a complete withdrawal of Russian forces. He is due to address the forum via video link on Wednesday.

On the sidelines of the meeting, Vitali Klitschko, the mayor of Kyiv, told the Reuters news agency on Monday that Kyiv’s devastated infrastructure, which has been hit by successive Russian airstrikes, was strained and could collapse “any second”.

Mr Klitschko’s brother Vladimir, another former heavyweight boxing champion who also attended the meeting, added that Ukraine’s allies should speed up deliveries of air defense systems.

“It is important that you do not hesitate to give us the weapons we so badly need, but that we deliver them the sooner the better – otherwise we will continue to lose our infrastructure and, most importantly, our most good people,” he said, according to Reuters.

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