Ukraine’s President Volodimir Zelensky said Monday that rebuilding his war-torn country is the “common task of the entire democratic world,” and his prime minister unveiled a $750 billion recovery plan once the weapons of the invading Russia remain silent.
As Russian forces continued their crushing advance into Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region, Zelensky spoke via video message at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland about the needs of the country that has been on an up-and-down march to democracy since the end of the Cold War and is now facing widespread devastation.
“The reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local project, it is not a project of one nation, but a common task of the entire democratic world: all countries, all countries that can say that they are civilized”Zelensky told hundreds of attendees in Lugano. “Restoring Ukraine means restoring the principles of life, restoring the space of life, restoring everything that makes humans human.”
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said such a recovery would require a kind of “Marshall Plan” to help Ukraine rebuild.
Such ambitions, Zelensky said, will require large-scale construction, financing and security. “Across our country, which will be forced to continue living alongside Russia.”
The task, which is already underway in some areas that were liberated from Russian forces, aims to take advantage of foreign expertise, government funds and the work of Ukrainians to rebuild hospitals, schools, government buildings, houses Y apartmentsbut also water and gas pipes. and other damaged infrastructure.
“Today we are all united in our defense. Tomorrow in our reconstruction”, said the Ukrainian Prime Minister, denys shymhalwho attended in person. He laid out a recovery plan that meets immediate needs, even as the war continues, followed by a “Fast recovery” when finished, and then the longer-term requirements.
Shmyhal said the cost of the recovery plan is estimated at 750 billion dollars and insisted that a key source of funding “should be the confiscated assets of Russia and the Russian oligarchs”. He cited unspecified estimates that such sums now number between $300 billion and $500 billion.
“The Russian authorities unleash this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction and they should be held accountable for it,” Shmyhal said.
Earlier Monday, a leading Swiss non-governmental group called Switzerland a “safe haven” for Russian oligarchs and as a trading center for Russian oil, grain and coal.
Public Eye urged the Swiss executive branch to “use all the levers at its disposal to stop the financing of this inhuman aggression”, a reference to Russia’s war that has killed thousands of people, it has driven millions from their homes and hurt the global economy by driving up food and fuel prices.
He said that Switzerland has over the years been a “popular shelter” for Russian business tycoons to park their assets. The group said that companies use Switzerland as a “unregulated commodity trading center” and exploit the lack of transparency about financial transactions in the country.
The group welcomed thehumanitarian commitment” from Switzerland for Ukraine through the conference, but called on the government to strictly implement international sanctions against Russian elites and their government, and better regulate their trade center.
Switzerland is a major international financial center and its government has traditionally promoted “neutrality” Switzerland, which is enshrined in law, and Switzerland’s role as an intermediary between hostile countries and as a host to many UN and international institutions.
The Swiss Bankers Association has estimated that the assets of Russian clients deposited in Swiss banks total 150-200 billion Swiss francs (about 155-210 billion dollars)making the country a key repository for Russian money abroad.
Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, has largely joined the bloc’s sanctions against Russia. The website of the Swiss federal department of the economy says that as of May 12, a total of $6.55 billion has 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 safe haven for oligarchs close to the Kremlin and as a trading center for Russian oil, grain and coal, Switzerland bears a heavy political responsibility.”
The conference on the shore of Lake Lugano brings together hundreds of representatives from government, advocacy groups, the private sector, academia and UN organizations, and dozens of Ukrainian ministers, legislators, diplomats and others. It is based on a multi-year, multi-country discussion of reform in Ukraine, even before the war started, but this time the focus is on “Recovery” from the war.
Environmental groups want to help Ukraine build back better. Lobbyists Solar Power Europe and Wind Europe, along with their Ukrainian counterparts, urged Ukraine to set a goal of producing at least 40% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2030, adjusting it to 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 last year for which data was published. Most of Ukraine’s electricity comes from nuclear power and coal burning.
A small group of Greenpeace activists pulled off a media stunt by pretending to install a fake wind turbine on the shores of Lake Lugano, as part of a call with Ukrainian NGOs to support sustainable energy development in the country whose infrastructure has been extensively damaged. .
(With information from AP)
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