By Joanna Roper CMG, Britannic Majesty’s Ambassador to the Netherlands and Oleksandr Karasevych, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Kingdom of the Netherlands
The terrible impacts of president Putin’s war in Ukraine are clear. We all want a lasting peace and an end to the global instability caused by the ongoing war. The Ukrainian people have shown incredible resilience in defending their country and their values. We all share these values, and the international community has come together to support Ukraine in defending its territory in multiple ways.
Supplying Ukrainians with weapons to defend their territory and their people, the UK and the Netherlands recently announced a £92M air defence package and further funding for the International Fund for Ukraine. Both countries have been providing basic training to Ukrainian soldiers in the UK, and are working together to train Ukrainian pilots to use fighter jets that can better help them defend their country. Of course, alongside this, the UK and the Netherlands have been working closely to support Ukraine in its humanitarian response to a conflict that’s has left 17.6 million people in need of assistance, as estimated by UNHCR.
That same level of support is necessary when working together to reconstruct Ukraine. This work, which is already underway, is an unprecedented challenge, especially in the wake of the devastation caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam. Whilst we consider Ukraine’s immediate needs, those of us sat safely in the UK and the Netherlands must start to think about the long-term recovery of the country, or risk being behind the curve. Ukraine’s recovery needs governments, international institutions, and the private sector to come together to ensure a prosperous and resilient country is rebuilt. A powerful symbol of the power of democracy over autocracy.
The challenges are immense, rebuilding critical and social infrastructure, housing, energy, and humanitarian support. That is why we must start preparing now, taking the first steps today to secure Ukraine’s tomorrow. The reconstruction of Ukraine offers the opportunity to super-charge the nation’s productivity, stimulate foreign investment, strengthen skills and knowledge and integrate Ukraine more tightly into the global economy – laying the foundations for future economic growth. Ukrainian people have shown themselves to be future-facing, their tech industry is an important wartime asset that will become a catalyst for economic growth when the war is won. However, this reconstruction cannot be done by governments alone, effective cooperation with businesses will be crucial to kick-starting Ukraine’s recovery.
This recovery is already underway and whenever Ukraine liberates areas from Russian control – as it is doing – we all must begin reconstruction as soon as possible. We need to address the financial gap to ensure the Ukrainian government can pay wages, repair houses, run schools and restore critical infrastructure.
Last week the Ukraine Recovery Conference highlighted this challenge and brought together business leaders, civil society, and governments, to help secure Ukraine’s prosperous future. Businesses such as Philips, Royal HaskoningDHV, Rolls Royce, and Ukrainian businesses, such as Difco Group, MHP, DTek, Kernel, already see the opportunities in investing in Ukraine’s recovery, and have pledged support in rebuilding the country. Ukraine is determined to come back stronger, as a modern, innovative, green economy, working with international partners. And the UK and the Netherlands, along with so many others, are determined to help them to do this.
Unfortunately, war is still a daily reality of Ukrainians. The UK, the Netherlands, and our allies will continue to support Ukraine in defending their territory, and we know they will continue to show the same resilience and bravery they have shown since day one of this conflict. Ukraine will win this war. Because Ukrainians have the highest motivation possible – they fight for their homes and their families, because free democratic world resolutely stands behind Ukraine, because Putin’s regime is not able to stop Ukrainians liberating their land.
When that liberation happens, governments, civil society, and businesses, need to be ready to support Ukraine’s recovery. A recovery that could become the biggest rebuilding project in Europe since the ‘Marshall Plan’ which laid the foundation for post-war economic recovery of Europe.
As a result of Russian full-scale invasion, Ukraine has suffered significant destruction. Recovery needs are at least $400 billion for all infrastructure facilities – residential, social, administrative, cultural, and export. The International Conference on Ukraine’s Recovery (URC23), which was held in London on June 21-22, was a crucial forum for the international community to support Ukraine in its recovery and reconstruction efforts. While last year’s Lugano conference gave a respective political push, the London conference raised $60 billion for Ukraine’s recovery. Over 500 companies have signed the Business Compact, emphasising their support for Ukraine’s recovery.
As president Zelenskyy said in one of his daily addresses to the nation – a ‘rebuilt, transformed and strengthened Ukraine is a guarantor of security, it is a safeguard against any forms of Russian terror as well as against repetitions of Russian aggression’.