Ukraine presents a $750 billion “reconstruction plan” for the post-war future

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LUGANO, Switzerland — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday said rebuilding his war-torn country was the “common task of the entire democratic world” as his prime minister unveiled a $750 billion recovery plan once the weapons of Russian invaders were removed are silent day.

As Russian forces continued their crushing advance in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, Zelenskyy spoke via video message to the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland about the needs of the country, which has been on an ups and downs towards democracy since the cold weather ended is at war and now faces widespread devastation.

“The reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local project, not a project of a nation, but a joint task of the entire democratic world – of all countries, all countries that can say that they are civilized,” Zelenskyy said in front of hundreds of participants in Lugano . “Restoring Ukraine means restoring the principles of life, restoring habitat, restoring everything that makes people people.”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said such a recovery would require some sort of “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine to help it rebuild.

Such ambitions, Zelenskyy said, will require large-scale construction, funding and security “throughout our country, which will be forced to continue living alongside Russia.”

The task, already underway in some areas liberated by Russian forces, aims to use outside expertise, government funds and the work of Ukrainians to restore hospitals, schools, government buildings, homes and apartments – but also water and gas lines build up and other ailing infrastructure.

“Today we are all united in our defence. Tomorrow in our reconstruction,” said Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal, who was present in person. He presented a recovery plan that addresses immediate needs—even as the war continues—followed by post-war “rapid recovery” and then longer-term needs.

Shmyhal said the cost of the recovery plan was estimated at $750 billion and insisted a key source of funding “should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs.” He cited unspecified estimates that such sums now amount to between $300 billion and $500 billion.

“The Russian authorities are unleashing this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction and should be held accountable for it,” Shmyhal said.

Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president of the European Union’s executive branch, said the use of such confiscated Russian assets is linked to criminal law, so the “legal obstacles” have not been removed, “but we think it is important that according to the principle ‘aggressor pays ‘ It is also Russia’s assets that are going into Ukraine’s reconstruction.”

Earlier Monday, a leading Swiss NGO described Switzerland as a “safe haven” for Russian oligarchs and a trading center for Russian oil, grain and coal.

Public Eye called on the Swiss executive to “use every lever at its disposal to stop funding this inhumane aggression,” a reference to the war in Russia that has killed thousands, displaced millions from their homes and disrupted the world economy has been affected by driving food and fuel prices increase.

Switzerland has been a “favourite haven” for Russian business tycoons to park their fortunes over the years. The group said companies are using Switzerland as an “unregulated commodity trading hub” and exploiting a lack of transparency about financial transactions in the country.

There was no immediate response from the Swiss government.

The group hailed Switzerland’s “humanitarian commitment” to Ukraine through the conference, but called on the government to strictly implement international sanctions against Russian elites and their government and to better regulate their trade hub.

Switzerland is a major international financial center, and its government has traditionally touted Swiss “neutrality” – enshrined in law – and Switzerland’s role as a mediator between hostile countries and as host to many international and UN institutions.

The Swiss Bankers Association estimates that the assets of Russian customers deposited with Swiss banks amount to 150 to 200 billion Swiss francs (approx.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, has broadly aligned itself with the bloc’s sanctions against Russia. The website of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs states that a total of CHF 6.3 billion was frozen in Switzerland as of May 12 in connection with Russia’s war in Ukraine.

“As a safe haven for oligarchs close to the Kremlin and as a trading hub for Russian oil, grain and coal, Switzerland bears a great deal of political responsibility,” says Public Eye in its call for transparency and better regulation in Switzerland.

The conference on the lakeside of Lugano will bring together hundreds of representatives from governments, interest groups, the private sector, academia and UN agencies – and numerous Ukrainian ministers, lawmakers, diplomats and others. It builds on a multi-year, transnational discussion on reforms in Ukraine – even before the war started – but this time the focus is on “recovery” from the war.

Environmental groups want to help Ukraine rebuild. Lobby groups Solar Power Europe and Wind Europe, along with their Ukrainian counterparts, have called on Ukraine to set a target of generating at least 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, to align it with European Union targets.

According to the International Energy Agency, Ukraine generated less than 10% of its electricity from renewable sources in 2019, the latest year for which data was released. Most of Ukraine’s electricity comes from nuclear power and burning coal.

A small group of Greenpeace activists staged a media stunt by pretending to build a fake wind turbine on the shore of Lake Lugano, as part of a call for Ukrainian NGOs to support sustainable energy development in the country, whose infrastructure has been badly damaged.

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