Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky sat down with Randall Lane, chief content officer for Forbes, Thursday afternoon at the 2022 Forbes Philanthropy Summit, addressing his country’s seven-month-long war with Russia and his hopes for the future. Watch below:
- Zelensky suggested Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision this week to escalate the war by calling up 300,000 military reservists won’t change Ukraine’s drive to reclaim occupied land: “For us, the war will be over when we have our territory.”
- He bemoaned Putin’s push to send more troops into Ukraine—some of whom are very young—“to get killed” and to be used as “fodder,” saying “it doesn’t matter to him how many of them will be here.”
- Zelensky called on the world to help Ukraine rebuild its economy and infrastructure, and urged investors to back Ukrainian industry, particularly the country’s key energy and agricultural sectors.
- Zelensky said international investment in Ukraine could help mend the destruction wrought by Russia’s invasion, boost food exports to the rest of the world and push back on Russian energy dominance in Europe, arguing “the more added value Ukraine produces, the more added security people worldwide will receive.”
- The president added that Ukraine needs international help to build up its aerial defenses, and suggested “businesspersons could exert certain pressure on their countries” to provide assistance.
- Zelensky said the Ukrainian government is pushing back against the corruption that has dogged the country and harmed its economic prospects in the past, pointing to efforts to make more government services available digitally, which he said gives less power to bureaucrats and middlemen.
- Zelensky also reiterated his calls to punish Russia on the world stage, arguing “the aggression has to be punished.”
Chef José Andrés, the founder of aid group World Central Kitchen, presented fighters, teachers, rescue personnel, journalists and other frontline workers in Ukraine with the Forbes 400 Lifetime Achievement Award.
Zelensky spoke with Forbes after the Ukrainian military routed Russian forces in northeastern Ukraine earlier this month, part of a successful counteroffensive that forced Russia to abandon territory that it captured in the early days of the war. Russia has struggled to advance in Ukraine after some initial victories during the invasion’s early months, and it is facing sanctions and pressure from the international community. But Russia still occupies large swaths of eastern and southern Ukraine, and Putin has shown no interest in winding down his war: On Wednesday, he instituted a military draft for hundreds of thousands of reservists, and issued a barely-veiled threat to use nuclear weapons if he feels Russia is threatened.