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‘We see our future as part of’ Europe: Vitali Klitschko

Kyiv’s Mayor Vitali Klitschko and World Champion Boxer Wladimir Klitschko spoke with Yahoo Finance’s Julie Hyman and Brian Sozzi about the Ukraine-Russia war at the Davos World Economic Forum 2023.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Well, Russia's invasion of Ukraine happened almost one year ago in late February of last year. And, of course, Ukrainian officials are still asking for more aid from the West. They have made enormous gains already, but they want to push them further and bring a conclusion to the conflict.

Joining us now is Vitali Klitschko, who is the mayor of Kyiv, and his brother Wladimir joining us here in Davos. Brian and I thank you so much for being here, first of all.

And Vitali, I want to start with you. Talk about why you are here and what the message that you're bringing to the people in Davos is.

VITALI KLITSCHKO: It's very important-- life important for us, for Ukrainians. Support Ukraine-- support, politically support, economically support, and also support with defensive weapon. Defensive weapon I want to make attention. Defensive weapon because we defend our homeland from aggression. And it's very important because without support, we can't survive.

And why it's important for the whole world, because we're fighting for the same values. We don't want to live in authority. It's not secret Putin want to bring us back and rebuild Russian Empire. We don't want back to USSR. We see our future as part of European family, and that's why we're fighting, and that's why we need support.

If we have the same values, we want to live in a country where the human rights is main priority-- democratic values and human rights. For that, we're fighting, fighting for a future for our families, for our children. And it's life in critical important for us, life important. That's why we are right now here and talking in Davos with decision makers in politics and business.

And also not just weapons, not just military support, also we have to think about day after tomorrow-- success of Ukraine, the best answer for our friends and also for our enemies.

BRIAN SOZZI: A lot of the executives I talk to here, they of course call out the Russia-Ukraine war as a key risk to their business, but they seem very detached from the situation. As someone dealing with this every day, explain to us what you're seeing on the ground from day to day, and what does it look like today?

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO: It is difficult during the wintertime, and Russia is destroying our energy resources. It's difficult for the people, for the civilians. It's complicated. We just, day before yesterday, were precisely bombed with Russian rockets. And in the city of Dnipro, the building with-- residential building lots of people in it, children and families in it, was destroyed, and over 40 people were killed, and still actually discovering other bodies to know the exact loss that we have.

And on the military side, obviously on the front line we tremendously need weapons, and the mayor just mentioned it. Weapons during the war make people believe or die. For us to defend our country, it gives us sense and chance for life, to keep our infrastructure alive, to keep our civilians alive.

And the war crime that is happening in Ukraine that is done by the Russian Army is just horrifying, and justice must occur. Behind every raping, killing-- that's exactly what is happening in Ukraine-- on a bigger scale has first and last name of the person who've done it, and we know those names. And it is extremely important to give us Ukrainians support that we need on humanitarian side as well as on the military side to finish this war.

You can finish it only on the front line during the war. And we hope and we are thankful to the US government for delivering for us those weapons that are needed. Unfortunately, we're getting it not enough as it's needed, but we're getting it. Slowly the free world is waking up and giving us more support.

But the question is, how much is enough? It's never enough until this war is still going.

JULIE HYMAN: I want to ask a little more specifically about the energy infrastructure because you mentioned the attacks that have now been happening. We're in the depths of winter, as we feel very well here in Davos as well, and now you've got power that is being knocked out to certain areas. What specifically can you do about that issue defensively to protect your infrastructure assets, and what do you need to protect them?

VITALI KLITSCHKO: It's not the war. It's not special operation. It's genocide and terrorism. [INAUDIBLE] wars. To destroy normal life of the people, to let people freezing in the winter condition where outside is very cold and without electricity, without heating, without water, and to let survive millions of people, it's war crime.

And that's why we need help from our partners and actually the Russians. Why they do that? I guess they try to make depression mood, demoralize the people. Instead, then people very angry and ready to fight and defend our houses and our country. That doesn't have affect what expect the Russians.

And in this case-- in this case, this situation is critical. We're fighting for surviving and want to say thank you very much for support for everyone who sent the electric generators, who sent humanitarian help to Ukraine. It's life important for us.

But we are strong, and I listened a thousand times from our citizens. Better we living without electricity than with Russians. And people very tough, and people are very angry at Russia.

JULIE HYMAN: You all have talked about the support from the West. I know, Wladimir, you've talked to German officials and German government a bit. We just had a German defense minister resign over controversies about perhaps not enough support for Ukraine. At this point in the war, are you at all concerned about the attention of the West flagging a little bit, slowing down a little bit? You are getting more weapons, but how long can that be sustained, do you think?

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO: You're right. There is-- it is a great challenge. Endurance beats masterpiece and talent in any other army, endurance just to hold up and to stand with one front against this aggression-- unfair aggression.

One front, we can stay together longer, but it's also important to understand that without support that we're receiving, without giving the support, no democracy will survive in this world. Dictatorship will continue provoking and actually escalating more wars and escalating more situations that prewar or starting more wars that are going to lead us to disaster.

That's why we need to stand together. We need to be united. We need to be united with our allies, the US and the European Union and other allies in the world that are sharing the same democratic principles. It is important to protect it and fight for it and not to forget, not to get tired of it.

As well as in sports, as our background, as well as in the war or in the economy, same principles of focus, agility, coordination, and endurance are occurring and working, working well.

BRIAN SOZZI: The situation on the ground, of course, is dire and very tough, but have you been able to start mapping out what reconstruction may look like and when that may even happen?

VITALI KLITSCHKO: First of all, the priority for us, stop this senseless war. And yes, of course we're here in Davos, and we're thinking and talking for day after tomorrow because success of Ukraine is the best answer for our friends, for our supporter, and also for our enemies. That's why we're looking for the reason of this war. We don't want back to USSR, and we see our future as part of European family with democratic values, with European standards of lives for our citizens.

And that's why it's success of Ukraine is main priority. And also we're looking for investment. We're looking and thinking and making plans for day after tomorrow. It's very important also.

JULIE HYMAN: You guys are heroes. You know, when you come to Davos, people come up to you. They say we support you. They want to shake your hand. They want to take pictures with you. Vitali, do you-- do you feel that is genuine? Do you feel that that means as much if they're not giving you the military support that you need?

VITALI KLITSCHKO: It's very important to pay attention to Ukraine. It's very important to support Ukraine, and that's why we're here and also to remind for people we're defending not just our homes. We're defending the same values, democratic values.

And it's actually very important also for Ukraine and for the West. We're defending-- I'm sorry, maybe it's big wars, but we're defending not just our home and our children and our future. We're defending every one of you because Putin want to break the international laws. They're talking right now about rebuilding Soviet empire. And please don't forget, a big part of Europe was also the part of Soviet empire.

Also I tell to Germans, please don't forget that Putin is thinking and looking at Germany also because half of Germany was part of Soviet empire where Putin spent years as KGB agent. And Moscow will listen to voices regarding Poland, regarding the Baltic countries, and it's very aggressive.

Everyone make a huge mistake. A lot of experts talking-- thinking that Putin will be happy with Crimea nation. He's not happy. Then it's Luhansk. He's not happy. He wants to occupy the whole Ukraine. He wants to rebuild Russian Empire, and we don't want to live in the country with no human rights.

JULIE HYMAN: Could this war go on for another year, 5 years, 10 years?

VITALI KLITSCHKO: It depends-- it depends from us, from Ukrainians. It depends from our partners. And that's why, from the-- it's interesting. Wars depend from weapons because we are ready to defend our hometown, home country. And it's main priority in the battle, spirit and will.

We Ukrainians already surprise whole world because a lot of experts [INAUDIBLE] give us a couple of days or a couple of weeks because Russian Army is one of the strongest armies in the world, but almost one year we're defending our country. And if we receive much more defense-- I tell defensive weapon because we defend our country-- we will be successful.

If the last Russian soldier left our homeland, this mean the peace coming back to Europe. It's our goal. And also it depends from us and also depends from our partners.

BRIAN SOZZI: We talked to one policy expert yesterday, and he called Russia a rogue nation. Now, how big a risk is Russia right now to the overall world? I just want to try to frame this for a lot of the people that we talk to here that are not on the ground.

WLADIMIR KLITSCHKO: There is a bigger threat, and that must be considered as well what to do with Russia also afterwards when we're going to defend Ukraine, and that's what politicians are asking themselves how that's going to work and when the war is going-- what is the end look like, and when is going to happen?

I believe that when the Russian Army is going to fail, there's going to be also inside of the country in Russia definitely cause some turbulence on the political level and personal level and so on because many Russians lost their lives in Ukraine. And there's a lot of-- still a lot of relatives, mothers, and fathers asking for what our children were killed and died in Ukraine. And eventually, you know, this regime that we have is not actually what we want to have.

I mean, there's a lot of questions going to be for the West and for the free world is going to be used any other chemical weapons and nuclear weapons during this time and what the end is going to look like? There is a lot of questions but not much of answers.

But I think also in this war we need to do it step by step and obviously plan as well as rebuilding Ukraine and the next steps with Russia, how that's going to look. Isolation, economical isolation, and any other isolation of Russia is important right now, and when this post-isolation time will come and will occur, how is that going to look like? As I said, there are a lot of questions, not many answers, but the next step is to protect Ukraine.