The blue and yellow ribbon on a house on the Promenade, Davos’ main street, is hard to miss. The Victor Pinchuk Foundation, together with the Ukrainian president’s office, organized a “House of Ukraine” in Davos. The week-long discussion will be on various aspects of Russia’s war of aggression against the country. An architectural statement from Ukraine at the World Economic Forum’s elite gathering in the Swiss mountains.
Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, later made the country’s political statement: Russia’s aggression threatens to spill over to other countries if Russia does not lose the war. She called for Russian war crimes to be condemned under international law: “Cohesion and unity” is the only thing that can be used to fight this aggression.
German tanks to Ukraine?
Today, Wednesday, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is expected at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Polish President Andrzej Duda already conveyed an indirect message to Scholz on Tuesday: he once again defended the supply of main battle tanks for Kyiv. He is hopeful, Duda said, that the latest move to hand over Polish Leopard tanks will open a “new chapter in military aid” for Ukraine. To be able to deliver German-made Leopard tanks to Ukraine, Poland needs German export permission, but Berlin has so far been reluctant to do so. However, things have recently started to move.
Anyway, the national-conservative Polish president recalled that his country had already delivered 260 Soviet-designed tanks to its eastern neighbor since Russia attacked Ukraine.
In her speech, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen also addressed arms deliveries to Ukraine. EU countries also took in four million refugees from Ukraine, and she also recalled that Europe had placed Russia under the toughest sanctions in history. This blocks access to modern technologies for Russian industry.
“Russia’s crimes do not go unpunished,” said the chairman of the commission. The EU does not slow down in its support for Ukraine, only on Monday another aid package worth three billion euros was presented – and that is just the first installment of a package of around 18 billion euros in 2023 With this money Ukraine will be able to pay salaries and run schools and hospitals.
Loan repayment is scheduled to start in 2033, Ukraine has up to 35 years to repay, and the cost of accrued interest must be borne by EU member states.
Russia’s blunt gas weapon
In the second part of his speech, von der Leyen spoke about the impact of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine on the European Union and that gas prices in Europe have fallen faster than expected. Compared to their August peak of €350 per megawatt-hour, European natural gas prices are in this range.
Month fell by 80%, emphasized von der Leyen in Davos. “This is lower than before the war in Ukraine.”
Admittedly, Europe had a powerful ally – the weather. Extremely mild temperatures have caused the demand for gas for heating purposes to drop to a record level. Europe has overcome dependency on Russian fossil fuels and replaced 80% of Russia’s piped gas, said the Commission President.
Von der Leyen sees the Union’s energy transformation as one of his priorities: According to a new EU industrial plan, Europe’s economy must become a world leader in the market for clean technologies and innovations. “In the coming decades we will experience the greatest industrial change of our time – perhaps even of all time.” And: “Those who develop and manufacture the technologies that form the foundation of tomorrow’s economy will have the greatest competitive advantage.”