Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday that rebuilding his war-torn country was the “common task of the whole democratic world”, as his prime minister presented a $750 billion stimulus package once the invading Russian weapons fell silent.
As Russian forces continued their overwhelming advance in Ukraine’s eastern Donbass region, Zelenskyy spoke via video message at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland about the needs of the country which has seen an upward march towards democracy since the end of the cold. War and now faces widespread devastation.
“The reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local project, is not the project of a single nation, but a common task for the whole democratic world – all countries, all countries that can call themselves civilized,” Zelenskyy told hundreds of attendees in Lugano. “To restore Ukraine is to restore the principles of life, to restore the space of life, to restore everything that makes man human.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said such a recovery would require some sort of “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine to help rebuild.
Such ambitions, Zelenskyy said, will require large-scale construction, financing and security “across our country that will be forced to continue to live alongside Russia.”
The task, which is already underway in some areas that have been liberated from Russian forces, aims to leverage outside expertise, government funds and Ukrainian labor to rebuild hospitals, schools, government buildings, houses and apartments – but also water pipes, gas pipes and other dilapidated infrastructure.
“Today, we are all united in our defence. Tomorrow in our reconstruction,” said Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shymhal, who was present in person. He outlined a recovery plan that addresses immediate needs – even as the war continues – followed by “rapid recovery” when it is over, then longer-term needs.
Shmyhal said the cost of the stimulus package is estimated at $750 billion and insisted that a key source of funding “should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs.” He cited unspecified estimates that these sums currently total $300 billion to $500 billion.
“The Russian authorities are starting this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction and they should be held accountable,” Shmyhal said.
Earlier on Monday, a leading Swiss non-governmental group called Switzerland a “safe haven” for Russian oligarchs and a trading hub for Russian oil, grain and coal.
Public Eye urged the Swiss executive to “use all the levers at its disposal to stop the financing of this inhuman aggression”, a reference to the war in Russia which killed thousands of people, drove millions from their homes and s rippled through the global economy by driving up food and fuel prices.
He said Switzerland has over the years been a “popular haven” for Russian business tycoons to park their assets. The group said the 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 at the conference, but called on the government to strictly enforce international sanctions against Russian elites and their government, and better regulate its trade hub.
Switzerland is a major international financial center and its government has traditionally touted Swiss “neutrality” – which is enshrined in law – and Switzerland’s role as an intermediary between hostile countries and as host to many international and UN institutions.
The Swiss Bankers Association has estimated that assets of Russian customers deposited in Swiss banks total 150-200 billion Swiss francs (about $155-210 billion), making the country a key depository of Russian money in the world. ‘foreign.
Switzerland, which is not an EU member, has largely embraced the bloc’s sanctions against Russia. The website of the Swiss Federal Department of Economics says that as of May 12, a total of 6.3 billion francs have been frozen in Switzerland in connection with Russia’s war in Ukraine.
In its call for transparency and better regulation in Switzerland, Public Eye said that “as a haven for oligarchs close to the Kremlin and as a trading hub for Russian oil, grain and coal, the Switzerland bears a great political responsibility”.
The Lake Lugano conference brings together hundreds of representatives from government, advocacy groups, the private sector, academia and United Nations organizations – and dozens of Ukrainian ministers, lawmakers, diplomats and others. It builds on a multi-year, multi-country discussion of reform in Ukraine – even before the war started – but this time the focus is on “reviving” the war.
Environmental groups want to help Ukraine build back better. Lobby groups Solar Power Europe and Wind Europe, along with their Ukrainian counterparts, have urged Ukraine to set a goal of producing at least 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, which will put it in accordance with the objectives of the European Union.
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 has been published. Most of Ukraine’s electricity comes from nuclear power and burning coal.
A small group of Greenpeace activists have staged a media stunt by pretending to install a fake wind turbine on the shores of Lake Lugano, as part of a call for Ukrainian NGOs to support sustainable energy development in the country. infrastructure was extensively damaged.
— Jamey Keaten, Associated Press