Ukraine dominates Davos
DAVOS, Switzerland — Ukraine dominated the official and unofficial agendas at Davos, and it will likely continue to do so at upcoming global gatherings — G7, G20, UN General Assembly.
Yes, but: Some Davos participants, particularly from non-Western countries, worry that the war is not only exacerbating other global challenges, but taking attention away from them.
On the one hand: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told Davos attendees Wednesday that Ukrainian soldiers were taking heavy losses in the Donbas because they lacked the weaponry to fight from a distance.
- The message was clear: Western dithering was costing Ukrainian lives.
On the other: Samir Saran, head of the Observer Research Foundation, a think tank based in Delhi, told Axios it felt like it was hard to hold a conversation in Davos about any issue other than Ukraine.
- While that's understandable, he said, Sahan worries climate and development priorities — and crises outside of Europe more generally — are being pushed off the international agenda.
- Referring to the amount speedily appropriated by Congress last week to arm Ukraine, Saran added, "I would like to see $40 billion for climate projects in the developing world, for example. But it would be difficult to get anywhere close to that."
Another view: Natalie Jaresko, a former Ukrainian finance minister, told Axios the most effective way to stem other global crises — hunger, energy, recession — was to help Ukraine win the war.
- "Only step by step are we starting to recognize the global effect of [Putin's] war," said Jaresko, part of a dozens-strong Ukrainian contingent in Davos to rally support.
- "Today it's food, tomorrow it will be steel, and by the next meeting, it'll be something else."
The knock-on effects of the invasion are certainly being felt.
- In one panel discussion, Bangladeshi State Minister for Foreign Affairs Shahriar Alam said the war was already unleashing grain shortages and political instability in South Asia.
- But while his U.S. and Ukrainian co-panelists appealed for arms and sanctions to help Ukraine win, Alam laid out a different priority: "We want the war to end. Right away."
Saran also argues that NATO countries should be focusing more on bringing the war to an end than imposing costs on Russia.
- As Harvard political scientist Graham Allison told Axios, "Most of the world does not agree with this 'West is back' conception of what is happening in Ukraine."
What to watch: Saran says the resurgence of belief in the liberal international order amid the Ukraine crisis does offer hope — if, that is, the momentum carries over onto challenges beyond security in Europe.