It is impossible to put a price tag on the human toll of the fighting in Ukraine: Thousands of people have been murdered, numerous houses and buildings have been devastated by missiles, and families have been uprooted. The second day of a summit in Lugano, Switzerland, is aimed at doing precisely that, as leaders from across the world assemble.
Ukraine’s politicians, relief groups, and financial institutions are working together to lay out the enormous task of rebuilding the country after a devastating conflict.
After almost five months of conflict, industries, airports, and train stations have been destroyed, as have homes, schools, hospitals, and churches. The bombs keep raining down. Denys Shmyhal, Ukraine’s prime minister, said Monday that reconstructing the country will cost $750 billion.
Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine, had warned the conference of Ukraine’s “colossal” burden of reconstructing the nation. Russia’s indiscriminate bombardment, he added over video connection, was an effort not just to destroy Ukraine but also to undermine the concept of freedom and Europe.
This is a Russian assault on everything that matters to you and me,” he said. To rebuild Ukraine is thus not a local initiative, nor is it a national one, but rather an international effort.
His nighttime speech to the Ukrainian people underlined that point.
Ukraine’s foreign partners confront an uphill battle to help rebuild a former Soviet state with a chronic culture of corruption and frail democratic institutions, whatever the cost. In its 2020 corruption ranking, Transparency International placed Ukraine 117th out of 180 nations.
However, although Ukraine welcomes more assistance offers, many Western nations and their populations are becoming weary of the conflict in the face of rising food and energy costs. The extent to which nations are prepared to assist Ukraine when the conflict is over is also an open question.
Donor commitments for Afghanistan and Yemen fell far short of United Nations goals earlier this year. The United Nations estimated that this year’s humanitarian relief in Afghanistan would need $4.4 billion, but only $2.4 billion was collected as a result of the Taliban’s policies. $1.3 billion of the $4.3 billion requested for Yemen was given.
As a result, Mr. Zelensky sent Mr. Shmyhal and several other cabinet members to the gorgeous lakeside town of Lugano to meet with a who’s who of international power brokers for two full days. President von der Leyen of the executive branch of the European Union and British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss both attended as did senior officials from Europe, North America, and Asia, as well as representatives from major international financial institutions. Von der Leyen called the rebuilding of Ukraine “a generational task.
As part of a series of conferences aimed at combating corruption in Ukraine, the gathering was scheduled well before the conflict. However, once Russia’s invasion started on February 24th, attention turned to recovery. Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, spoke through video connection to the Lugano conference on Monday and announced a gathering of first women and gentlemen from across the globe on July 23. The group’s inaugural summit was held in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, last year.
According to Ms. Zelenska, Ukraine’s postwar development is meaningless if it doesn’t emphasise the healing of people’s moral and physical health.
Issues of governance and corruption have gained greater significance in recent weeks at the Lugano summit. On its website, the European Union said that progress on corruption and the rule of law was essential before approving Ukraine as a candidate for full membership.
But even before the meeting began, a number of nations were ready to provide financial assistance.
More than $1 billion in World Bank loans and fiscal assistance grants will be provided by Britain, along with urgent funding for clearing landmines and reconstructing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and an additional $500 million in World Bank loans will be guaranteed by the UK.