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DAVOS, Switzerland — There is little to laugh about about Russia’s war on Ukraine. But former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson offered a rare moment amid pledges of support for Ukraine from political leaders and corporate titans attending the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland this week.

On Thursday, Mr. Johnson was at the breakfast for Ukraine, which turned out to be one of the crowd’s biggest draws. He heard Canada’s Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland use a hockey metaphor for Canadian superstar Wayne Gretzky to describe why the West should do more for Ukraine.

When Mrs. Freeland finished, Mr. Johnson leaned into his microphone and said, “Tell Putin to get out of Ukraine.”

The room erupted in laughter, a moment of mild relief in a crowd otherwise consumed by sober questions. Will Germany send Panther 2 tanks?, or whether investors like Goldman Sachs and BlackRock will provide billions of dollars for Ukraine’s reconstruction. (Their bosses say yesBlackRock’s chief executive, Larry Fink, said investors are entitled to “fair and reasonable returns”.)

Ukraine has long had a lively presence at the World Economic Forum, largely thanks to initiatives Victor PinchukThe Ukrainian billionaire has attracted A-list politicians and businessmen for breakfast meetings there over the years.

Now that his country’s survival is commanding the world’s headlines, the breakfast is a good news event. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte; President Biden’s climate ambassador, John Kerry; And current and former US senators were all on hand. A crowd of several hundred spilled onto the pavement outside.

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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky attended the event via video link and Ukraine’s staunch supporters, Mr. Thanks to the likes of Johnson, he, as prime minister, made Britain an early contributor to arms for Ukrainian troops. While Germany was deciding whether to send more tanks, Mr. Zelensky urged Europe not to fade away.

“It’s not a movie theater waiting for the movie to start,” he said.

Mr. Mr. Johnson has visited Ukraine four times during his tenure. Befriended by Zelensky, the Ukrainian president took up the theme. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and sometimes Mr. The fears expressed by Mr. Biden. Johnson refused – heavy weapons could escalate the conflict, leading to a direct conflict between Russia and NATO.

“Give them tanks,” said Mr. Johnson said. “There’s absolutely nothing to lose.”

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