Sign up for GZERO Media's global politics newsletter

Gillian Tett: Ukraine knows how to get what it wants from the West

The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, is not known for big outbursts of human emotion. But this year, the Ukrainian delegation got a standing ovation from the usual crowd of global business leaders. Gillian Tett, US editor-at-large and chair of the Financial Times board, met with the Ukrainians and shares her perspective with Ian Bremmer in a Global Stage interview. Beyond all the emotion, Tett also believes that when the fighting is over, there will eventually be business opportunities for many people present. She also commented on chatter about using sanctions against Russia to confiscate assets and use them to compensate Ukraine, which she sees as a slippery slope because there are many doubts about due process.

Ian Bremmer: Gillian Tett, last night, you were with the entire Ukrainian delegation, an emotional time for you. Tell me what you took away from that meeting.

Gillian Tett: Well, the first thing I took away was the fact that the Ukrainians are being exceptionally clever in terms of trying to rally support in the West by coming here. And it's quite remarkable that we had the mayors of a number of Ukrainian cities, a lot of the government figures. Many people in civil society coming all the way to Davos, to basically try and persuade the west that they need to rally support around them. And not just support them in terms of ending the war through sanctions and other measures and trying to get military support, but also very actively now, thinking about rebuilding and about the Marshall Plan.

Ian Bremmer: And I mean, Davos is not a place typically that you would expect to see a Ukrainian delegation rallying for support. They've gotten away with it because of the sheer brutality of the Russians, but also because of the trauma that is so evidently and abundantly being experienced by everyone in the delegation.

Gillian Tett: What I think was very clear is listening to the stories about the horrific events happening on the ground in Ukraine. Even as we speak, is injecting a level of emotion and shock into what's frankly normally often very dry and boring and wordy debates. And there's a huge amount of goodwill here. There's a huge recognition that what they're fighting for are values that Davos itself has often tried to reclaim or say that it espouses. There's also recognition that eventually there will be some kind of business opportunity in Ukraine for many people here, and they're looking about that as well. But in the short to medium term, the other issue of course, are questions of food security, the questions around sanctions, and how they're going to impact the global economy. And people are saying, "Yes, we absolutely support you, but there are also concerns we have."

Ian Bremmer: Now, on the sanctions piece, something the Financial Times is surely very interested in. I mean, we have an awful lot of assets that are being confiscated, and there's a lot of talk about taking those assets and helping to pay off the Ukrainians who have just been invaded by Russia. I've heard a lot of people criticizing that on the sidelines of this global group. What's your take?

Gillian Tett: I've heard lots of concern about that as well, not just from American financiers and lawyers who say, what about the due process element of all this? We want to have some kind of framework and due process. But also from the non-Western investors who have been investing in America or Europe in recent years are saying, "Well, hang on a sec, if due process is being overturned, what will it mean for us looking at America as an investment destination?" Now, the Ukrainians are aware of this and they've come up with a number of documents, which are trying to create some kind of framework and due process around this, which they've been passing around to people in recent days.

Gillian Tett: And it's going to be very interesting because there are a number of techniques and tools you can use that already exist under US law and in jurisdictions like France and Netherlands, which actually would allow you to do quite a lot of action right now. The question though is whether they're solid enough and whether the people in Davos will rally around any of the Ukrainian proposals around a due process.

Ian Bremmer: So, maybe, but what you're saying is we're not there yet?

Gillian Tett: Not there yet, and it's going to be very tough.

More from Global Stage

The Road to 2030: Getting Global Goals Back on Track | Dec 15 2022 11 am ET/8 am PT | Global Stage | GZERO and Microsoft

The road to 2030

The past two years have brought devastating setbacks for global development goals including poverty reduction, gender equality, and climate action. Live on Thurs 12/15 at 11 am ET, our expert panel will discuss how to get back on a path to greater peace and prosperity.

Kailash Satyarthi: Child labor increased during COVID

The pandemic not only took kids out of school. It also pushed many into the workforce. COVID raised the demand for children as the cheapest source of labor, Nobel laureate and human rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi says during a Global Stage livestream conversation. Indeed, it's the first team we're going back on meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goal No. 8 target on ending child labor.

The perils of depending on food imports: UN Foundation chief

We all know there's a global food crisis due to the impact of shortages of Russian and Ukrainian grain, fertilizers, and fuel. But UN Foundation chief Elizabeth Cousens thinks high prices are hurting some countries even more. While addressing famine is the top priority, Cousens says in a Global Stage livestream conversation that the long-term plan should be "laying the foundation for a much more resilient, equitable food system."

No internet, no education, says Vickie Robinson

The pandemic accelerated the shift to digital. But that left behind those offline, widening the digital access gap — with big implications for education. Vickie Robinson, general manager of Microsoft's Airband Initiative, recalls how she dealt with school closing as a mother. Having in-home connectivity helped her children transition from middle to high school with some sense of normalcy. But two-thirds of school-aged kids around the world didn't have that opportunity, she says during a Global Stage livestream conversation.

Focus on Africa: hunger, energy, climate - and the path to growth

Sub-Saharan Africa was on the brink of economic recovery last year. Now, the World Bank expects its growth to slow in 2023. With global inflation on the rise, rising food and fuel costs “actually put lives at risk in a way few other shocks can," says International Monetary Fund (IMF) senior economist Andrew Tiffin.

Is the world on the brink of another global recession?

The global economy's 2023 outlook is ... bleak. Why? Ayhan Kose, the World Bank’s chief economist for Equitable Growth, Finance, and Institutions, says that unlike the 2009 and 2020 global recessions, next year's likely slowdown in economic activity — coupled with growing inflation — could be more like the one of 1982, which also came with a string of debt crises.

Digital Equity