Like a CEO making dozens of meetings, the Ukrainian president increased his number of meetings at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Monday and Tuesday. Volodymyr Zelensky traveled to the Swiss resort of Graubünden, snow-covered like the plains of Ukraine, for the first time since the Russian invasion.

Dressed in a black sweatshirt and his usual khaki pants, the president gave a speech in the crowded plenary room, in front of some 1,500 people. “Putin embodies war, he will not change,” Zelensky insisted. “I don’t think he’s ready to change because only a human being can change.” He added that the master of the Kremlin “loves money above all else.” “We must make it lose as much as possible,” he demanded, calling for sanctions to be strengthened, in particular by extending them to the Russian nuclear industry, which has been spared until now. As usual, the Ukrainian president mixed gratitude towards his allies and reproaches. He repeated how Western injunctions to “avoid escalation” have wasted time and lives. Which did not prevent the audience from standing up to applaud him at the end of his speech. In addition to this global media platform, Volodymyr Zelensky benefited from the unique concentration of government leaders and CEOs offered by the Davos Forum.

On Monday, he brought together national security officials from “81 countries” to discuss a “peace formula”. Alongside the President of the Swiss Confederation, Viola Amherd, Volodymyr Zelensky announced the principle of a peace summit that Switzerland is ready to organize this year. Proposal that the Kremlin immediately criticized, not being a party to the discussions.

The Ukrainian president spoke with the head of American diplomacy Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who renewed their support for Ukraine. He also spoke – among others – with Rwandan President Paul Kagame to involve “the voices of African states” in this peace summit project. On the other hand, he told Le Figaro, he will not meet Emmanuel Macron, expected Wednesday afternoon in the Swiss resort, because “I have to go home,” he said. Zelensky also did not meet Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang, although he was present in Davos on Tuesday. For what ? “Because Xi Jinping is not here. He is the decision-maker. I will be happy to meet him. We need China on the right side of the war.”

Does he fear a Donald Trump victory in the American presidential election in less than ten months? “He said he would stop the war by talking to Putin and Zelensky. And that if Ukraine does not stop, it will cut off its arms supplies.” “Bullshit!” he exclaimed in English. “Putin will not stop,” and if all of Ukraine is invaded, “Europe will have lost its most useful army.”

The Ukrainian head of state, always as energetic during his speeches, also spoke with big bosses: Jamie Dimon, the CEO of the largest American bank, JPMorgan, the directors of the asset manager BlackRock and even from Carlyle, Blackstone or ArcelorMittal. “We have had positive signals,” commented Zelensky during an exchange with around thirty journalists from the international press. “It surprises everyone,” he said, “our GDP has increased” in 2023 and inflation “is at 6%.” This is “unheard of in times of war,” he said. According to the IMF, Ukraine was growing last year, at 2%, but this is a rebound after a 29% collapse in the year of the Russian invasion. As for inflation, the IMF measures it at 17% for the whole of 2023.

To finance reconstruction, Volodymyr Zelensky pleaded to the press for the freezing of Russian private assets, in addition to those of the Central Bank of Russia. He mentioned a sum of 700 billion dollars. “The cost of the war is too low for Putin,” says the Ukrainian leader. With every sanction, there is always an escape route.”

Although the president was coming to the Davos Forum for the first time in person since the Russian attack, he had already been very present there. In 2022, when the Forum had been postponed until at least May, he intervened by videoconference and sent many ministers, deputies and bosses, omnipresent in numerous conferences. In 2023, it was his wife, Olena Zelenska, who represented him. Klaus Schwab, the founder of the Davos Forum, in good spirits at 85 years old, recalled on Tuesday that in 2020, just elected, Zelensky had warned the world, from Davos, about security threats. Crimea had then been occupied for six years but the West was far from considering the scenario of a massive attack from Moscow.