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Davos day 4: Olaf Scholz condemns invasion of Ukraine and urges global cooperation on threats – as it happened

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos today.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz after addressing the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos today. Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the assembly during the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2022 annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the assembly during the World Economic Forum (WEF) 2022 annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Photograph: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Finally, here’s Olaf Scholz

A major nuclear power is behaving as if it had the right to redraw borders.

“Putin wants a return to a world order in which strength dictates what is right; in which freedom, sovereignty and self-determination are simply not for everyone. That is imperialism. That is an attempt to blast us back to a time when war was a common instrument of politics, when our continent and the world were without a stable peaceful order.

Putin underestimated the unity and vigour with which the G7, NATO and the EU would respond to his aggression,”

“Working together, we have imposed sanctions that are tougher and further-reaching than any previously imposed on a country of Russia’s size.”

And in the need to accelerate the energy transition.

Now we have even more cause to move away from fossil fuels than before.

Ultimately, our goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2045 has been given an additional boost by Putin’s war.”

That’s all from Davos from us until next January, at least, when the Annual Meeting plans to return to its winter slot. GW


The clearest sign of change at Davos this year is that a building previously used for Russian parties has hosted evidence of atrocities in Ukraine.

The Russian War Crimes House, on the promenade outside the WEF congress centre, displays a map showing civilian deaths in the conflict, along with photos including ruined buildings and cemetries.

A video plays thousands of photos from photographers from the conflict, which can also be seen by WEF attendees as they pass by.

It’s backed by Ukrainian oligarch Viktor Pinchuk’s foundation, who said this week:

“If we tell the story of this tragedy as wide as possible, maybe it will save some lives.”

A woman displays a poster in front of the Russian War Crimes House in Davos.
A woman displays a poster in front of the Russian War Crimes House in Davos. Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters

Although the Ukraine war and the risk of global recession have dominated WEF this week, sustainability has also been on the Davos agenda.

South American politicians and financiers urged new forms of sustainable forestry in the Amazon rainforest at the World Economic Forum in Davos, saying it was the only way to halt over-exploitation.

Gustavo Montezano, president of the Brazilian Development Bank (BNDES).

“It’s all about regulation, legislation and putting the ground for the people from the forest to become entrepreneurs. And they really want that.”

Some 60 percent of Brazil’s territory is in the Amazon basin, and the bank is now financing efforts to reforest parts of it after decades of people believing that “destroying the forest was creating economic value,” Montezano said.

Water was another concern, with the launch of a two-year commission into the economics of water.

And Indian tech conglomerate HCL announced $15m of funding to support entrepeneurs (or ‘aquapreneurs’) to develop better access to freshwater.

Roshni Nadar Malhotra, chairperson of HCL Technologies, explained:

“Today, freshwater resources globally are extremely burdened and every firth child on this planet faces water scarcity.”

Tether, the multibillion dollar “stablecoin” that functions as the largest bank in the cryptocurrency economy, is 100% safe, its chief technical officer has said.

Speaking in Davos, Paolo Ardoino said that after the collapse of the rival stablecoin Terra speculators had turned their fire on Tether.

“They attacked us believing we didn’t have the money to pay out. We showed them we had the money.”

Ardoino said that despite withdrawals of $10bn in the past two months - almost half of it serviced from the company’s cash reserves - said new accounts were “being opened by the day”.

Like all stablecoins, Tetheris supposed to always be worth a fixed amount – in its case, one US dollar. It achieves that, the company says, by maintaining a large reserve of stable assets - a mixture of cash, US treasury bills and commercial paper.

Ardoino said the amount held in commercial paper had been reduced from $40bn to $15bn since March. Asked whether investors could be sure their money was safe he replied: “100%”.

As Davos closes today, the need for radical change does not, says Jenny Ricks, Global Convenor of Fight Inequality Alliance.

The usual warm words contrast with the cold, hard reality outside the elite bubble. Protests continued this morning from South Africa to India, where people experiencing the sharp end of inequality are demanding wealth taxes and more.

“The world has changed rapidly and leaders must meet these serious challenges. Inequality is a real threat to our lives and livelihoods that requires action from governments now not broken neoliberal economic policies well past their sell by date.”

A group of climate activists are holding a demonstration outside the World Economic Forum, as the Annual Meeting wraps up.

The Fridays for Future group are holding a climate strike, to urge WEF delegates to take more action on the climate emergency as they leave the Congress Centre.

Greta Thunberg held a climate strike here in 2019, on her first visit to WEF, and in 2020, so it’s turning into a regular event.

(Had they waited until Friday, there’s be no delegates here)

Activists from Fridays for Future hold a climate strike at World Economic Forum, in DavosClimate activists hold signs, during a Fridays for Future climate strike on the last day of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in the alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland May 26, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Several of the activists have spoken on WEF panels this week, including Climate activist Vanessa Nakate, the founder of the Rise Up movement (who was cropped out of a photo with four other activists in 2020).

Nakate told a panel session earlier this week:

“We know who caused the climate crisis and we know who has to pay for it. We need a compensation fund for loss and damage. It’s happening right now, it’s pushing people to places where they cannot recover. People cannot adapt to the loss of their cultures, the loss of their islands, the loss of their histories. I’m looking at the West to pay this bill.”

“When we talk about climate change we are also talking about food security. Look at the East Africa drought that has left more than 26 million people with no access to food. It’s really important to understand the intersections of this crisis.

“The African continent is responsible for less than 4% of emissions, but the East Africa drought has left 28 million people with no access to food.”

Climate activists Alexandria Villasenor of the United States, Elizabeth Wathuti of Kenia, Vanessa Nakate of Uganda and Helena Gualinga of Ecuador take part in the protest.
Climate activists (from left to right) Alexandria Villaseñor of the United States, Elizabeth Wathuti of Kenya, Vanessa Nakate of Uganda and Helena Gualinga of Ecuador take part in the protest. Photograph: Gian Ehrenzeller/EPA
Activists from Fridays for Future hold a climate strike at World Economic Forum, in DavosClimate activists hold signs, during a Fridays for Future climate strike on the last day of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in the alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland May 26, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann
Activists from Fridays for Future hold the climate strike Photograph: Arnd Wiegmann/Reuters
Activists from Fridays for Future hold a climate strike at World Economic Forum, in DavosClimate activists hold signs, during a Fridays for Future climate strike on the last day of the World Economic Forum (WEF), in the alpine resort of Davos, Switzerland May 26, 2022. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

Scholz also said Germany’s plan to become carbon-neutral by 2045 has become “even more important” due to the Ukraine war, which increases the pressure to act to hit the Paris climate targets.

And in a sign of his push for multilateral cooperation, Scholz is inviting South Africa, Senegal, India, Indonesia and Argentina to the G7 summit, which he’s hosting in Bavaria, next month.

Scholz says:

“they represent countries and regions whose cooperation the world needs to move forward on global challenges in the future.

The author of the ground-breaking report on the economics of climate change - Nick Stern - says one effect of the war in Ukraine has been to emphasise the need for energy security.

That could help the fight against global heating, Stern tells us:

“If we have rediscovered the importance of energy security it points the same way as climate change - away from fossil fuels.”

Stern, a former Treasury chief economist, says he is worried about stagflation - a combination of weak growth and high inflation - which he says “looks a bit like the 1970s.”

Stern says central banks are right to be raising interest rates but warns finance ministers - such as the UK’s Rishi Sunak - of the risks of “premature austerity” which could harm the prospects for growth.

Higher investment to speed up the transition to a cleaner, greener economy would not add to inflationary pressure, Stern says.

“Rishi says the government is committed to growth and a large part of that is going to be clean investment for a new economy. We need to go faster.”

Stern says the benefits of driving electric cars and better-insulated homes are obvious but people need help.

“You have got to work out a way of making it easier for people to make changes in their lives. You can’t just say it’s all too difficult.”

Scholz urges global cooperation on threats

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks with World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (right) as he left the stage after his speech
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks with World Trade Organization Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (right) as he left the stage after his speech Photograph: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP/Getty Images

Here’s Associated Press’s take on Olaf Scholz’s speech:

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has sharply condemned Russia’s war on Ukraine and called for global cooperation to overcome life-threatening challenges such as climate change, hunger and dependency on fossil fuels.

Speaking on Thursday at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Scholz said the:

“invasion of Ukraine does not mark the outbreak of any conflict anywhere in Europe. Here, a nuclear-armed superpower claims to redraw borders.”

Scholz said Russian President Vladimir “Putin wants to return to a world order in which the strongest dictate what is right, in which freedom, sovereignty and self-determination are not.”

The German chancellor described Putin’s war politics as “imperialism,” which is “trying to bomb us back to a time when war was a common means of politics, when our continent and the world lacked a stable peace order.”

He says the world is no longer bipolar like during the Cold War between the U.S. and Soviet Union. Instead of using the power politics of past centuries, the chancellor said it’s important all powers work together to solve threats like hunger, climate change or dependence on fossil fuels.

Scholz said:

“If some want to take us back to the past of nationalism, imperialism and war, our answer is not with us.’ We stand for the future.”

Dr John Chipman, director-general of the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS), has tweeted some key points too:


Returning to Ukraine, Scholz says a return to the imperialism of the past, as Russia wants, cannot be tolerated, and must be stood up to with solidarity.

Germany’s chancellor concludes by saying it would be wrong to ‘switch off’ - we must think about Ukraine every day, and do everything we can to end the war, he says.

Countries must maintain international cooperation as we move to a multipolar world, says Scholz.

On the pandemic, he says some countries are not making enough headway on vaccinating populations, and that leaves them at risk.

Scholz also defended globalisation during his speech, saying it has lifted global life expectancy and reduced poverty.

But that doesn’t mean everyone has been a winner, so it must be made more stable and resilient.

If someone wants to lead us back to a world of imperialism and war, then count us out, declares Olaf Scholz.

Scholz: Covid pandemic is not over

On Covid, Scholz warns that the pandemic not over it, much as we wish it were.

And it will not end until we stop the cycle of mutations, he says -- as Pfizer’s CEO Albert Bourla also warned this week in Davos).

Delegates here in Davos had to be triple-vaccinated, pass a Covid test before arriving, and were also tested here. And while the staff working here are wearing masks -- the delegates are generally not.


Olaf Scholz says the strong international response to Russia’s blatant violation of international law was important, as it shows that a multipolar world is not a world without rules.

He warns against the decoupling of the world economy, saying that companies and customers will bear the burden of customs duties and trade barriers.

Scholz says we cannot look away when we see human rights abuses, such as repression in Xinjiang (where China operates re-education camps for the Uighur people).

Scholz pledges that Germany will end its dependence on Russian oil and gas.

We’ll end our use of Russian oil by the end of year, are and working hard to ending our reliance on Russian gas, he says.

[That’s not as fast as Ukraine are calling for -- in the opening speech on Monday, president Zelenskiy called for an immediate ban on Russian oil].

Finland and Sweden are now looking to join NATO, and we would welcome them with open arms, Germany’s chancellor declares.

[Turkey, though, is threatening to stall the process]

Scholz says Germany is providing heavy weapons to Ukraine - the first time in its post-war history that it has delivered arms to a war zone. [reminder, Ukraine’s mayor Vitali Klitschko wants them to move faster].

And Scholz believes that Putin will only seriously negotiate peace when he believes he cannot break Ukraine’s defences.

Russia must not be allowed to dictate the peace terms, Scholz adds.


Putin will not win war, says Scholz

We cannot allow Putin to win this war, and I firmly believe he will not win it, Olaf Scholz says.

The prospect of Russia capturing all of Ukraine seems less likely than at the start of the war, Germany’s chancellor says, thanks to the Ukrainian forces and support from Europeans.


Scholz: Ukraine invasion was thunderbolt

Olaf Scholz tells the World Economic Forum that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 24 February was a thunderbolt.

A nuclear power is acting as if it has the right to redraw borders, he says.

This is imperialism, threatening to to take us back to a time when war was a common instrument of politics.

Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, is addressing the World Economic Forum now.

Klaus Schwab, founder of WEF, introduces him, saying it is a critical moment for Europe and the international community. The world has changed abruptly since the invasion of Ukraine.

We need global responsibiltiy and cooperation, and a strong Europe is crucial, Schwab adds.

The metaverse has also been under discussion here:

Vitali Klitschko ended his session by talking about the suffering of Ukraine’s children, including a boy who arrived in Kyiv alone from Bucha, because his parents had died.

He’s alone now.

Q: What do you want to hear from German chancellor Olaf Scholz when he speaks later?

Klitschko says we should remember that Germany have been the biggest supporter of Ukraine in the past, which he thanks them for.

But now, Ukraine needs defence weapons - quickly.

Klitschko says :

“We need fast decision with the weapons.”

[Some background: Four weeks ago, Germany agreed to send dozens of anti-aircraft tanks to help defend Ukraine from Russia’s invasion, but the first tanks aren’t expected until July. According to Reuters, a lack of ammunition is holding things up].

Asked about the cost of reconstructing Kyiv, mayor Klitschko replies that the satellite cities have suffered the worst, with devastating damage in places such as Bucha.

But hundreds of buildings, such as apartments, have been destroyed in Kyiv, so the priority is to reconstruct those buildings so the residents who are currently homeless can move back.

That will cost around 80m euros, and the reconstruction work is starting now.

The reason of this war, Klitschko continues, is that the Ukrainian people wanted to build a modern democratic society and become part of the European Union.

And he warns that Ukraine is not simply fighting to defend itself. We are defending you, Klitschko declares, because we have the same values.

We don’t know how far the Russians plan to go, he adds,

Ukrains needs defensive weapons, because we are a peaceful country, Klitschko explains.

This war is a danger to everyone. Everyone in Europe, and everyone in the world.

It is the 92nd day of the war, but it feels like one long day, non-stop, says Vitali Klitschko.

He then plays a recording of a siren warning residents to go to the bunkers, explaining how he hates that sound.

What’s happening now is a big tragedy, Klitschko continues - not just for Ukraine, but also for Europe.

And also for Russians, he says, who are slowly coming to understand that the invasion is not a special military operation as President Putin has claimed.

Vitali Klitschko: It's not a special operation, it's genocide

Vitali Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, begins his briefing by saying that Russia still hopes to take control of the Ukrainian capital.

It is clear that it is not a special operation, as Russia claims, but war, one of the biggest since the second world war, he says.

Thousands of people have died, including a lot of children, Klitschko says, with a huge battle raging in the East of Ukraine.

It is no secret that Russia’s priority is to occupy the whole country, and their main target is still the capital of Ukraine, the heart of the country, the former heavyweight champion says.

He says the whole world has seen the evidence from satellite cities such as Bucha.

Everyone understands, it’s not a special operation.. it is the genocide of the Ukranian people, Klitschko says, with children, women, and old people killed.

And he explains the human suffering, saying it is difficult to understand how people can lose their home in a moment - or suddenly lose friends, relatives, or parents.


Climate scientist: We must rebuild Ukraine carbon-neutrally

A leading Ukrainian climate scientist has called for the cities attacked in the Russian war to be rebuilt in a climate-neutral way.

Dr Svitlana Krakovska, head of the Ukrainian delegation to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), believes the reconstruction of cities bombed in the invasion can be an example to the rest of Europe.

Speaking yesterday at a panel session here in Davos organised by the Arctic Basecamp group of climate scientists, Dr Krakovska said:

We have a big disaster in our country, we have so many people killed, our cities destroyed.

But these destroyed cities are our opportunity, to rebuild them in a climate-resilient way.

To do this we will need the support of all the international community, financial support and technology support as well.

So we are looking forward to having Ukraine as a role model for Europe.

Dr Krakovska received a medal from president Zelenskiy last year for her work on rising global temperatures, including visiting the Antarctic to monitor the impact of climate change there.

She says Zelenskiy supported the work her team were doing -- which has been disrupted by the war.

Earlier this week, Zelenskiy called for leaders at Davos to help fund the reconstruction of Ukraine, which could cost more than $500bn.

Citing cities such as Bucha and Mariopol which have suffered devastating damage, Dr Krakovska says:

We dream about rebuilding them in this way, and to be a model for climate neutrality.

Dr Krakovska tells me that before the war, Ukraine had energy cooperatives, which used solar panels to diversify from other sources.

We started to diversify our sources of energy once we started being blackmailed by Russia.

One notable example is Slavutych, the city created for people evacuated after the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, where solar panals were deployed on administrative buildings to reduce their dependence on other sources of energy.


Introduction: Klitschko and Scholz to speak

Good morning from Davos, where it’s the final day of the World Economic Forum.

A notably downbeat Davos will wrap up today, hearing from Vitaliy Klitschko, mayor of Kyiv, on how to rebuild the Ukrainian capital after the war, and what aid will be needed.

Last night, Ukraine’s Minister for the Economy, Yulia Svyrydenko, called for more international support:

“The military may win battles, but the economy plays the key role in winning the war. That is why it is so important to have support from economic partners.”

WEF delegates (who haven’t already decamped from the ski resort, anyway) will finally hear from a G7 leader, when Olaf Scholz, Chancellor of Germany, gives the final keynote address, to an edgy and uncertain WEF.

Recession risks, the unwinding of globalisation, geopolitical tensions and the Ukraine war have all led to the deeply sombre mood here.

As the historian Adam Tooze said:

“The war dominates everything. The nuclear escalation risk is not being priced in.

This doesn’t feel like cold war. It’s hard to think of a time during the cold war when the US openly announced its policy was to eliminate the capacity of Russia to take independent military action.”

Similar sentiments were expressed by a senior policymaker who pointed out that a global pandemic had been unthinkable in early 2020, a near-coup in Washington incited by Donald Trump had been unthinkable in January 2021 and a war between Russia and Ukraine had been unthinkable at the start of 2022.

This policymaker warned:

“Why should we think the unthinkable ended with the start of the war?”

We’ll also be tracking panel sessions on important issues such as how to help refugees find jobs, the risks facing the global economy, and also the metaverse.

The agenda

  • 9am Davos (8am BST): Kyiv after the Onslaught, with Ukrainian mayor Vitaliy Klitschko

  • 9am Davos (8am BST): The Future of Global Cooperation, a panel session with Mark Leonard, director of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), Ilona Szabó de Carvalho, president, Igarape Institute, Kyung-Won Na, Special Envoy of the President of the Republic of Korea, Silvia Anna Ainio, curator of Brussels Hub, Lance Pierce, CEO of NetHope

  • 9am Davos (8am BST): The Possibilities of the Metaverse

  • 9.15am Davos (8.15am BST): Integrating Refugees into Labour Markets - a panel session with Heba Aly, CEO The New Humanitarian, Jesper Brodin, CEO of IKEA, Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Valérie Beaulieu, chief sales and marketing officer at Adecco, Ebru Özdemir chair of Limak Holding

  • 10.15am Davos (9.15am BST): A Conversation with Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran

  • 10.30am Davos (9.30am BST): The Global Jobs Outlook, a panel session with Hisayuki Idekoba, CEO of Recruit Holdings, Aiman Ezzat, CEO Capgemini, Nicolas Schmit, European Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, European Commission, Zainab Shamsuna Ahmed, Minister of Finance of Nigeria

  • 10.45am Davos (9.45am BST): Global Risks in an Era of Turbulence, a panel session with Maria Fujihara, CEO of SINAI Technologies, Klaus P. Regling, Managing Director of the European Stability Mechanism, Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies atKing’s College London, Helen E. Clark, chair of WHO’s Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health, and Tengku Zafrul Bin Tengku Abdul Aziz, Malaysia’s Minister of Finance

  • 11am Davos (10am BST): Special Address by Olaf Scholz, Federal Chancellor of Germany