The World Economic Forum is all about money these days: surpluses, deficits, sanctions and investments. The phrase “time is money” is constantly heard in the most varied of contexts. Volodymyr Zelensky also made the value of time the stylistic device of his speech on Wednesday evening. But for the Ukrainian president, time is not money. For him, time means life. human lives.
His speech to influential politicians, managers and scientists in Davos, for which he is connected live from Kyiv, begins with a minute’s silence during which the packed hall rises. A minute’s silence not only for the Ukrainian Interior Minister Denys Monastyrskyj, who was killed in a helicopter accident a few hours ago, but for all the victims that the Russian war of aggression has claimed on the Ukrainian side so far. Also in the audience is his wife, the First Lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska.
Then Selenskij devotes himself: to time. It took Russia just a second to start the war, Ukraine’s president said. The world, on the other hand, hesitates, constantly. She hesitated when Russia annexed Crimea in 2014. She hesitated when Russia started the war in 2022. And she still hesitates. “The world must not hesitate any longer,” said Zelensky. “The time it takes the world to think is used by terrorists to kill.” Russia, he adds, has earned a place among the terrorists. The delivery of anti-aircraft systems and tanks to Ukraine must therefore be faster than the Russian attacks on his country.
Then he intersperses an optimistic tone. He is certain “that we will overcome the current threat”. Nor is he worried about his own safety, as he’s been asked over and over again – especially on a day when one of his cabinet members died and the British one Independent reported that the head of state is said to have survived twelve assassination attempts. Instead, Zelenskij prefers to quote himself with his now legendary statement from the beginning of the war eleven months ago: He doesn’t need more protection and certainly no escape help, he needs more ammunition.
Asked what he could say about the “helicopter accident” a few hours ago, Zelensky said he would not use that word. “It wasn’t an accident,” says Zelensky, “this tragedy was caused by the war. This accident is a result of the war.”