"A state of war criminals has turned Ukraine into a house of war crimes." In a video-transmitted speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyi used powerful words to call for further support for his country and preventive measures against future aggressors.

The world must learn to take timely action against threats of war rather than acting only after war has broken out.

Gerald Braunberger


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The Ukrainian army has fared far better than predicted against the second strongest armed forces in the world.

But preventive sanctions against Russia might have prevented the war that started in 2014. 

Tougher sanctions against Russia are now necessary, for example on oil and gas.

Ukraine needs at least $5 billion a month in aid and access to all the weapons needed to fight the Russian army.

“Don't make the aggressor feel like the world isn't judging him.

Don't be afraid of threats of using chemical, biological and nuclear weapons," Zelenskyi said. Russian assets seized in the West should be used to rebuild Ukraine. The President invited companies leaving the Russian market to set up branches to open in Ukraine.

The benefits of the sanctions are disputed

The usefulness of economic sanctions has long been disputed in many places.

From the Ukrainian point of view, the answer is obvious.

"As long as the war continues, sanctions will not have sufficient effect," Deputy Prime Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko said at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“This is not the time to do cost-benefit calculations.

Russia uses food, energy and other raw materials as a weapon against the entire world.

Therefore, Russia must be cut off from the world economy.”

The United States should have reacted more quickly to the Russian troop deployment on the border with Ukraine, noted US Congresswoman Ann Wagner.

"You have to use sanctions as a tool, even if it's difficult." However, economic sanctions could play an important role in achieving behavioral changes in a sanctioned country.

She also spoke out in favor of further diplomatic sanctions against Russia.

Former American politician turned investment banker Eric Cantor recalled that the success of economic sanctions depends on precise targeting and a multilateral approach.

He considers the numerous sanctions against Iran in recent years to be successful in terms of curbing Iran's nuclear program, restricting oil exports and the high inflation rate.

It is important to win as many partners as possible for sanctions.

If America wants to use the dollar as part of an economic war, one should also ask what that means for its partners.

Missing Rules for “Economic War”

John Morrison, chairman of the Institute for Human Rights and Business, was more skeptical.

Rules such as the Geneva Convention exist for military warfare, but no rules are yet known for economic warfare.

The goals of economic sanctions must be precisely defined, and their success measured and assessed as precisely as possible.

Unfortunately, there was no representative of a Western European country on the podium in Davos, since both in Ukraine and in the United States the behavior of Western Europe - and not least Germany - on the sanctions issue is at least viewed with suspicion.

"More sanctions from Europe against Russia are necessary," demanded Svyrydenko.

Russian financial assets frozen in the West were to be used to rebuild Ukraine.

"Together we must help to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy supplies in order to enable stricter sanctions," said Wagner.

The United States is ready to sell liquefied gas to Europe.