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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Zelenskyy urges global business elite to further punish Russia

By Mark Landler and Matina Stevis-Gridneff

As the war grinds on in eastern Ukraine with neither side making much progress, there were fresh signs of Russia’s growing international isolation Monday.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy took his message of unity against Russian aggression to an audience of global business elites Monday, speaking by video to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Russia, which is usually a major presence at the forum, was a pariah this year, its diplomats disinvited and its oligarchs blacklisted.

Zelenskyy’s call for support, including a full embargo on Russian oil and trade and the barring of all Russian banks from global financial networks, drew a standing ovation. He also urged world powers to help Ukraine establish safe corridors for grain exports to sidestep a Russian blockade and help avert global food shortages.

Also at Davos, Germany’s vice chancellor and energy minister, Robert Habeck, said a breakthrough was imminent in the negotiations over a European Union embargo on Russian oil. Those talks had been stalled by Hungary, which is heavily dependent on Russian oil.

In Geneva, a diplomat in Russia’s mission to the United Nations there resigned, firing off a blistering condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“For 20 years of my diplomatic career I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country,” Boris Bondarev, a counselor in the Russian mission, wrote in an email to diplomats.

His resignation is the highest profile so far by a Russian official over the war in Ukraine.

And Starbucks announced that it was officially exiting its business in Russia, ending its presence there after closing 130 stores and halting the shipment of Starbucks products. Hundreds of Western companies have ceased operations in Russia, and scores of them, such as Starbucks, have now left Russia completely.

In other developments:

— The first American M777 howitzers — the most lethal weapons the West has provided so far — have been deployed in combat in eastern Ukraine, The New York Times has confirmed. The gun shoots farther, moves faster, is hidden more easily and has buoyed Ukraine’s hopes of achieving artillery superiority at least in some front-line areas.

— Zelenskyy said Monday that 87 people had been killed in an attack last week in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine. The toll makes the attack one of the deadliest since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. Local officials said the target was a military training center in the village of Desna.

— Judges in Kyiv, Ukraine, handed down the first guilty verdict against a Russian soldier tried for war crimes, sentencing Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, to life in prison for shooting a 62-year-old civilian.

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