You could have stopped Putin: Zelensky hits out at west’s failure to protect Ukraine after Crimea annexation

World should have acted in 2014, claims Ukrainian president

<p>Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos on 23 May, 2022</p>

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the World Economic Forum in Davos on 23 May, 2022

The west could have prevented Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine by taking tougher actions against the Kremlin following its annexation of Crimea in 2014, Volodymyr Zelensky has told world leaders

Speaking at the annual World Economic Forum at Davos on Monday, the Ukrainian president tempered his gratitude towards countries involved in recent sanctions against individuals and firms close to the Putin regime.

Many lives would have been saved if the west had imposed sanctions against Russia last autumn, when Moscow massed tens of thousands of troops at the Ukrainian border, he said.

The Ukrainian president added that even this step would have been slow, saying strong sanctions should have been implemented against Russia after it seized Crimea eight years ago.

“Russia started its war against Ukraine back in 2014. We are grateful for this support [from the west] but if that happened, back then, immediately — that unity, that pressure on governments and on companies — would Russia have started this full-scale war?

“Would it have brought all these losses upon Ukraine and upon the world? I’m sure the answer to this question is also no.”

Mr Zelensky also used his virtual address to urge the international community to deliver “maximum” sanctions against Russia. This should include the barring of all Russian banks from the global financial system and a total ban on trade with Russia, he said.

"This is what sanctions should be: they should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor that wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbour would clearly know the immediate consequences of their actions," he said.

Ukraine’s leader noted Ukraine needs a minimum of $5bn (£4bn) in funding each month, as his country needs to rebuild “entire cities and industries”.

His comments came shortly after the US signed off on a $40bn (£32bn) aid package to Ukraine and the G7 pledged to give it another $19.8bn (£16bn).

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has led to the deaths of thousands of civilians and to the displacement of millions of others. In total, 6,538,998 refugees have now fled Ukraine, according to the UN.

The Kremlin has also been condemned for blockading Ukrainian ports, meaning millions of tons of food cannot be shipped to countries around the world.

Experts have accused Russia of weaponising food, with David Beasley, the World Food Programme boss, saying that there are “49 million (people) knocking on famine’s door right now in 43 countries”.

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