Ukraine’s Zelenskiy urges Western unity to stop Russia

(Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged the West on Tuesday to show a united front against Russian President Vladimir Putin and to step up its support for Kyiv to ensure that Moscow did not prevail in the war.

Western hesitation in its backing for Kyiv and fears of an escalation in the war with Russia were costing time and could prolong the fighting by years, he told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“In fact, Putin embodies war … He will not change … We must change. We all must change to the extent that the madness that resides in this man’s head or any other aggressor’s head will not prevail,” Zelenskiy said.

Nearly two years after Russia launched its full-scale invasion, Zelenskiy told the forum he strongly opposed freezing the conflict along its current lines.

“Putin is a predator who is not satisfied with frozen products,” he said.

The forum comes as Kyiv’s troops are going onto a more defensive footing after a major counteroffensive last year was unable to break through Russian defensive lines in Ukraine’s occupied south and east.

Kyiv is now focused on trying to secure Western assistance held up by political wrangling in the U.S. Congress and Brussels, reforming its conscription effort to replenish manpower and addressing artillery shortages at the front.

In a question-and-answer session after his speech, Zelenskiy said he had received “positive signals” about the unlocking of financial support from the European Union.

He said he hoped that the United States would approve further aid within weeks.

Zelenskiy met senior officials earlier on the sidelines of the forum, including U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg and international investors such as executives from JPMorgan.

(Reporting by Olena Harmash, Yuliia Dysa, Pavel Polityuk; Writing by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Bernadette Baum)