Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal has told the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Switzerland that the reconstruction of Ukraine would cost around $750 billion, with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy adding that it was the “common task of the whole democratic world” to help finance this investment.
Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion on 24 February, Russia has decimated many of Ukraine’s major eastern cities. It has also launched a terror campaign of air strikes and missile attacks against civilian targets in cities all across the country.
The Ukrainian government has estimated that direct infrastructural damage as a result of the war has cost over $100 billion. Unveiling a digital map before experts at the conference, Ukrainian data reveals that, in Kyiv and in the oblast regions alone, some 41 hospitals have been damaged, 141 schools, and 1,107 kilometres of roads.
Ukrainian authorities are pushing western democracies to advocate for the reconstruction of Ukraine with funds seized from the assets of the Russian government and its oligarchs. “Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction, they should be held accountable for it,” Shmyhal told the conference participants.
The message of Ukrainian authorities at the conference was clear. Investment in Ukraine, Ukraine says, is investment in “support of global peace.” With Ukraine now receiving European Union candidate status, the government hopes that a wave of investment will help modernise the country on its journey towards membership.
Ukrainian politicians have drafted some 24 draft resolutions on the reconstruction of Ukraine, viewed by around 3,000 international experts and officials present at the Lugano conference.
The Ukrainian government is working towards a phased reconstruction of the country, first focused on relief efforts for the millions of internally displaced persons within Ukraine, then followed by a long-term reconstruction project aimed at rebuilding Ukraine for EU membership.
Appearing at the conference, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen insisted on the importance of rebuilding the country after the war.
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“Ukraine can emerge from this on a path towards a stronger and more modern country, with a modernised judiciary, with stronger institutions, with a solid track-record to fight corruption, but also with a greener, more digital and more resilient economy,” she said.
Building back better
Ministers have proposed that Ukraine embark on a new wave of digitization, democratisation, and green development projects to radically transform the country on the conclusion of the war.
Ukraine remains the second most corrupt country in Europe after Russia. There are concerns that massive societal reforms must still be addressed in order to facilitate greater Western investment. Ukrainian officials have vowed to make the government more accountable and transparent during its recovery period.
Ukraine has proposed that the reconstruction of Ukraine will fall under the jurisdiction of several different European countries. Each nation would “adopt” a specific region of Ukraine in order to streamline recovery and make it more efficient. Britain has already been billed to lead reconstruction of the Kyiv region, while France could focus on Chernihiv.
At a presentation during the Lugano conference, it was suggested that Belgium would lead the reconstruction of Ukraine’s southern Mykolaiv region, which borders occupied areas in Kherson.