Diplomats from numerous countries are gathering in London today for a crucial conference aimed at securing funding to rebuild Ukraine. A nation ravaged by a 16-month war that has taken a toll on both its people and economy. The World Bank estimates the cost of reconstruction to exceed $400 billion. The event serves as both a fundraising platform and a resolute message to Russia that Ukraine’s allies are committed to supporting its recovery.
Among the notable attendees are U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. The London conference seeks to garner support from major corporations to invest in rebuilding Ukraine. UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly highlighted the importance of creating a secure and effective environment to attract private sector investments, emphasizing the need for underwriting Ukraine’s long-term security and combating corruption.
While Ukraine’s Western allies have not explicitly linked funding to anti-corruption measures. They recognize that a strong economy and robust democracy are crucial for the country to attract the necessary investments. Blinken stressed that Ukraine must build the most favourable investment climate possible. Not just for government and international financial institutions but also for the private sector.
The cost of reconstruction is estimated at over $400 billion by the World Bank.
Over 60 countries are represented at the two-day conference. Prominent companies such as BT, Virgin, Philips, and Hyundai Engineering already expressing their commitment to investing in Ukraine. The scope of Ukraine’s needs is vast, with many experts drawing parallels to the Marshall Plan that facilitated the reconstruction of Europe after World War II. Even prior to the recent collapse of the Kakhovka dam, caused by a Russian attack, Ukraine’s infrastructure had already been severely damaged.
During the conference, Sunak will open the event alongside Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy via remote connection. This will advocate for investment in technology and green energy to facilitate the construction of a financially stronger and technologically advanced Ukraine. The UK has pledged £240 million ($305 million) in aid and £3 billion ($3.8 billion) in World Bank loan guarantees for Ukraine at the conference.
Recognizing the threat posed to Ukraine’s economy by Russia, Sunak remarked on the scale of the challenge faced. Despite a 29% decline in Ukraine’s GDP last year due to the ongoing conflict, he highlighted the resilience of the Ukrainian people, who continue to carry on with their lives and business activities even amidst the threat of attacks.
The UK pledges significant aid and loan guarantees for Ukraine’s recovery.
Furthermore, the United Kingdom aims to make progress on establishing wartime risk insurance for companies investing in Ukraine, although specific details regarding the advancement of these plans remain unclear.
Last year, during the recovery conference held in Switzerland, Ukraine called for the use of billions of dollars in Russian assets frozen by Western countries since the invasion to aid in its recovery. While this proposal is still under discussion, the U.K. has taken a step in that direction by extending sanctions on Russia, ensuring that the frozen funds remain inaccessible until Ukraine receives compensation for the invasion.
British Foreign Secretary Cleverly stated the idea of Russia bearing financial responsibility for the damage caused in Ukraine. Aligns with the principle of “you break it, you bought it,” emphasizing the concept of natural justice.
Reconstruction is seen as both a physical and psychological response.
Highlighting the urgency of reconstruction efforts, Achim Steiner, the head of the United Nations Development Program. Stressed that recovery cannot wait until the war is over. He emphasized that reconstruction is not solely a physical response but also a psychological one. Underscoring the importance of sowing the seeds of recovery even during the most challenging moments.
The diplomatic conference in London holds significant promise for Ukraine. As international partners demonstrate their commitment to supporting the nation’s rebuilding efforts and creating an environment conducive to attracting investment. With ongoing discussions and substantial financial pledges. The hope is that Ukraine can embark on a path of recovery and emerge stronger from the devastation caused by the war.