Foreign donors pledge $66bn to rebuild Ukraine at London conference

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal says country will not wait until the end of the war to begin rebuilding

From left, German Minister for Economic Co-operation and Development Svenja Schulze, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London. EPA
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Donors at an international conference aimed at funding Ukraine's reconstruction have pledged €60 billion ($66 billion) in new financial support for the war-ravaged country as the summit came to a close on Thursday.

“We had not envisaged this to be a pledging conference. Nevertheless, today at this conference, we can announce a combined €60 billion in support to Ukraine,” UK Foreign Minister James Cleverly said.

At the closing session of the London conference, Mr Cleverly said the commitments from governments and international organisations would support Ukraine in the short and medium term.

“This provides us with the medium-term predictable support that will unlock the macroeconomic stability that Ukraine needs,” he said.

He added that efforts were now focused on unlocking “the enormous potential of the private sector”.

“Ukraine will rebuild, but they cannot do it alone, so together as governments as international organisations, as businesses, as representatives of civil society, we have shown Ukraine and the Ukrainian people that we stand with them,” he said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal told delegates that “we are starting to rebuild Ukraine this year – we are not waiting for the end of the war” as he thanked them for their financial support.

“We are much closer to fully mobilising the $14.1 billion we need,” he added, referring to a World Bank estimate of what is urgently required.

In the medium term, more than $400 billion will be needed to rejuvenate the Ukrainian economy, according to estimates.

Mr Shmygal also welcomed the commitment of “almost all” of those present in supporting the idea that Russia “must pay for its crimes and the destruction it has caused in Ukraine”.

“We need to finalise a compensation mechanism that will allow frozen Russian assets to be used to rebuild Ukraine,” he said, with international efforts currently mired in legal discussions.

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One of the conference's main goals was to involve the private sector by putting in place mechanisms to guarantee investments in Ukraine, where the army is currently in the midst of a counter-offensive against Russian forces.

About 500 companies from 42 countries including big names such as Google, Siemens, Vodafone, Hitachi, Virgin Group and Rolls-Royce have pledged their support, Mr Cleverly said.

The bulk of the €60 billion comes from a €50 billion aid package that the EU plans to disburse through 2027, which was announced on the eve of the conference.

The US also announced $1.3 billion in aid, boosting the energy and infrastructure sectors in particular.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the conference remotely on Wednesday, telling western leaders that “the eyes of the world are looking at us and whether we will defeat Russian aggression”.

“Also, the world is watching to see if we will restore normal life in such a way that our transformation will land an ideological defeat on the aggressor,” he added.

In recent days, Ukrainian forces have claimed limited gains in a highly touted counter-offensive to win back territory that Russia captured after launching its full-scale offensive in February last year.

Overnight, they struck a bridge that connects southern Ukraine to the annexed Crimean peninsula, according to a Russian official.

“During the night a strike hit the Chongar bridge. There are no victims,” Sergey Aksyonov, the Russia-installed governor of Crimea, said on Telegram.

Germany will host the Ukraine Recovery Conference in 2024.

Updated: June 22, 2023, 7:32 PM