Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for “maximum” sanctions on Russia in a bid to prevent Moscow from continuing its offensive against his country, while appealing for more weapons as the military operation heads to its four month.
Zelensky made the remarks during a virtual speech on the opening day of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Monday.
He went on to say that sanctions need to continue to stop Russia’s operation, including an oil embargo, blocking all of its banks, imposing punitive measures against its technology sector and cutting off trade with Moscow completely.
He told the gathering of global political and business leaders that sanctions should be "maximum" so that Russia would clearly know the immediate consequences of its actions.
"I believe there are still no such sanctions against Russia -- and there should be," he added.
The United States, Britain and Canada have already imposed an oil embargo on Russia. The European Union, however, has so far failed to impose similar measures due to some European counties' reliance on Russian oil imports for the time being.
Zelensky further called for the complete withdrawal of foreign companies from Russia to prevent supporting its ongoing operation, adding that Ukraine requires at least $5 billion each month at this tough time.
“The amount of work is enormous: We have more than half a trillion of dollars in losses; tens of thousands of facilities were destroyed. We need to rebuild entire cities and industries,” Zelensky said.
The Ukrainian president also said if Ukraine had “received 100% of our needs at once, back in February,” in terms of weapons, funding, political support and sanctions against Russia, “the result would be tens of thousands of lives saved.”
"This is why Ukraine needs all the weapons that we ask (for), not just the ones that have been provided," he added.
Russia launched the military operation in Ukraine on February 24, after Kiev did not implement the terms of the Minsk agreements and Moscow recognized the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
At the time, Russian President Vladimir Putin said one of the goals of what he called a “special military operation” was to “de-Nazify” Ukraine.
Western countries have responded to the Russian military operation by backing Ukraine with cash and heavy weaponry while imposing unprecedented sanctions on Russian officials and entities.
Moscow has repeatedly warned that such a flow of weapons to Kiev will only prolong the conflict.
The conflict in Ukraine has killed thousands of people and displaced more than 13 million, creating the worst refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
Russia has vowed to end the operation once its “security demands” are met. The list of demands includes provision of security for Russia’s interests in Ukraine and prevention of the ex-Soviet republic’s admission into the Western military alliance of NATO.
The conflict in Ukraine is dominating the discussions in Davos, the first WEF meeting in more than two years. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the cancellation of the 2021 in-person event and the postponement of this year's four-day confab until May.