Europe’s reliance on Russian oil and gas is funding the rape and murder of Ukrainian children, an MP and member of the country’s delegation to the World Economic Forum in Davos has told Sky News.
Ivana Kylmpush-Tsintsadze, an MP and former minister, said Western states and companies need to end “business as usual” with Moscow, and called for increased supplies of heavy weapons, a total gas and oil embargo, and tighter sanctions.
The MP is in Davos to deliver the message directly to political and business leaders as part of the largest diplomatic delegation to travel from Kyiv since the war.
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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the conference by video link on Monday, as the annual gathering of business, political and civil society leaders convenes in-person for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic in 2020.
“We’re here to deliver a message from our country; the necessity to stand together and give up trying to do business as usual with the Russian Federation in order to protect everything that we believe in, in prosperity, in democracy, in freedom,” she said. “They are important to business as well as governments and people.”
Ms Kylmpush-Tsintsadze said providing heavy weaponry was the greatest “humanitarian” contribution the West could make, and that she would be urging states, including Germany, to boycott Russian gas and oil.
“I came to Davos via Berlin, it was not an easy day of conversations, but I am glad they are on board with an oil embargo at least, that gives me a tiny hope they are seriously considering a full gas embargo,” she said.
“We are seeing the consequences of decades of dependency on Russia without any thought being given to it.
“If you are paying Russian companies for their oil and gas you are giving them resources to continue destroying our towns, our villages, killing our children, raping our women, elderly, babies, toddlers and destroying our country.”
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German Chancellor Olaf Sholz will address the WEF later in the week, one of 50 national leaders and heads of state among 2,500 delegates gathering in the Alps in the shadow of a security and economic crisis triggered by Russia’s invasion.
No senior British ministers currently plan to attend, with both Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng snubbing a meeting that will be addressed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and the prime ministers of the Netherlands, Spain, and Greece.
There will be no Russian presence. The oligarchs who used to throw the most opulent parties here are banned, as are the companies and institutions of the Russian state.
Ukraine will dominate discussion in Congress Hall and the margins of the conference, the conflict heightening concerns over global energy prices and inflation, as well as raising concerns over food security.
Climate change will also be a persistent theme, having been pushed down the agenda since COP26 last year by the financial crisis and the war, both of which have seen states seeking short-term fossil fuel alternatives to Russian energy sources.
Alok Sharma, still the president of COP26, will address delegates and the US climate envoy John Kerry will share a platform with his Chinese counterpart Xie Zhenhua, a significant symbolic presence act if nothing else.
Davos promises to be a marginally less lavish affair than in previous years, but there will still be few dissenting voices at a gathering that extols the virtues of liberal capitalism.
Given the external context of intersecting security, economic, and food crises and the faltering COVID recovery, there may be little time to consider how things went so badly wrong.