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Zelenskiy Set For Davos Opening Speech, Seeks To Keep Ukraine In Forefront With World Leaders.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy is set to give the opening speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, as the wartime leader seeks to keep his nation’s plight in the spotlight as global leaders grapple with a slew of crises.

Zelenskiy is scheduled to hold a videoconference with delegates in the evening on May 23 as he helps mark the opening of Ukraine House Davos, a forum established for Kyiv and international backers.

The main street in the Swiss resort town has been decorated by Ukrainian artists and transformed into a Russian War Crimes House, displaying images of devastation and pain back at home.

Russian politicians, business executives, and academics -- who in the past livened up events with glitzy champagne and caviar parties -- will not participate this year.

Davos organizers in March announced they were cutting ties with Russian companies and officials in light of Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

The influential four-day conference traditionally takes place in January, but the forum postponed the in-person event until now because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is expected to attract 2,500 political, business, and society leaders to its idyllic setting in the Swiss Alps.

Zelenskiy has spoken to dozens of groups through video links since the beginning of Russia’s February 24 invasion, talking to parliaments, conferences, and even the Cannes Film Festival as he attempts to keep the world's attention on Ukraine.

Participants at the conference are expected to discuss, among other things, disruptions in global supply chains, food and energy security, and the coronavirus pandemic.

German Economics Minister Robert Habeck plans to speak in a panel discussion on how Berlin is seeking to reduce its reliance on Russian energy in the face of supply uncertainties following the Kremlin decision to invade Ukraine.

In a blog post ahead of the summit, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva and First Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath said that “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has compounded the COVID-19 pandemic -- a crisis upon a crisis -- devastating lives, dragging down growth, and pushing up inflation.”

“Yet our ability to respond is hampered by another consequence of the war in Ukraine -- the sharply increased risk of geo-economic fragmentation.”

With reporting by AFP and dpa

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