A large Ukrainian delegation of ministers and mayors, headed by Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska, are in Davos this week, to lobby for greater Western aid and weapons deliveries for Ukraine.

What is Davos?

Davos is shorthand for the annual World Economic Forum meeting in the Swiss Alps and it brings together hundreds of heads of government, ministers and thousands of business leaders.

There are lots of talks, events, schmoozing and backroom chats that can help set the agenda for global events.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine is one of the biggest themes of this year's summit, which kicks off formally on Monday evening. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg is set to appear on Wednesday.

Are Russian officials attending?

No, Russian officials and business leaders have not been invited to Davos and many of them are subject to travel bans and EU sanctions so wouldn’t be able to attend even if they did get an invitation.

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Who’s representing Ukraine?

As mentioned above, Zelenska is heading the Ukraine delegation and is set to speak on Tuesday in one of the opening sessions in person, while President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to speak via videolink at side events of the forum on Wednesday and Thursday, AFP reports.

Mayor of Kyiv Vitali Klitschko is also there to lobby the west for more aid and weapons. "That's why I'm here," the former heavyweight champion boxer told reporters when asked about the need for fresh help.

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"That's why it's very important to talk directly... it's very important to have a personal connection."

The mayors of several other cities including Mykolaiv and Lviv are scheduled to attend, as well as the economy, culture and digital affairs ministers among others, making the Ukrainian team one of the biggest national delegations at the event.

"Right now, the economy in Ukraine is totally destroyed, destroyed infrastructure, destroyed normal life of our citizens," Klitschko told reporters in English.

The war is "a big tragedy because Putin has the sick idea to rebuild the Soviet empire. We lived in the empire and we don't want to go back to USSR.

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“We see our future as part of the European family," he added.

Has anything notable happened already?

Belarus opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya called her trial, set to start on Tuesday in absentia, a "farce" and "revenge" from Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko, saying she had not been given access to court documents.

Speaking to AFP at Davos on Monday, she added: "These trials are not trials at all. It's a show, it's farce, but it has nothing to do with justice at all."

"It's personal revenge of Lukashenko and his cronies – not only against me, but other people who are opposing him," she said.

Faced with "about ten charges" including high treason and conspiracy to seize power, the 40-year-old said she had contacted her court-appointed lawyer, but he never replied. "I don't even know what my so-called lawyer will be doing tomorrow in this court [and] how he's going to defend me," she added.

"I don't know how long this trial will take place, how many days, but I'm sure they will sentence me to many, many years in jail." 

Lukashenko's regime has prosecuted and jailed a growing number of opposition figures, journalists and activists since mass protests in 2020.

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Tikhanovskaya also dismissed joint air force drills on Monday between Russia and Belarus as the latest "bluffing" from Lukashenko.

The authoritarian leader allowed his military and financial backer Russia to use Belarusian territory to stage attacks on Ukraine last February, but did not send his own troops.

"I would call it bluffing or a show for the Belarusian people," Tikhanovskaya said of the latest exercises. 

"First of all, to threaten them, to say 'look the Russian army is here, so sit quietly, don't oppose anything'." She said the other purpose was "attracting the attention of Ukrainian soldiers from hotspots in the eastern part [of Ukraine] to the Belarusian borders."

She added: "Ukrainians are prepared for possible land attacks. They mined a lot of kilometers of border and I think it's impossible to again invade Ukraine [from Belarus]."

Tikhanovskaya, who claimed victory in the contested 2020 presidential election, said she was the first Belarusian to attend the World Economic Forum since 1992 – two years before Lukashenko came to power.

"It's a huge honor for us because for [almost] 30 years, Belarus was like a black hole on the map of Europe.

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"Nobody was interested a lot in what was going on there. We were considered as an appendix of Russia. We didn't have our voice," she said.

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