Ukraine Reconstruction Summit: UK, USA, France and Poland make important announcements

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The USA, UK, France and Poland led the announcements of new support for Ukraine’s reconstruction with money, logistics and business support to meet largest reconstruction needs since the second world war.

The Ukraine Recovery Summit, hosted in the United Kingdom, saw a series of announcements from major supporters of Ukraine, as well as Ukrainian leaders setting out how they would reshape their country as they rebuild it.

United Kingdom

As host, the UK’s prime minister Rishi Sunak opened the conference and in doing so, he stressed the UK’s firm commitment to stay with Ukraine for the duration – announcing €3bn of new assistance for the rebuilding of Ukraine’s economy. At the same time, he set out plans for a number of other mechanisms to enhance reconstruction further.

Those mechanisms include a new tech platform to foster UK-Ukraine investment and talent development to help Ukraine’s capacity to grow and recovery. He also announced new support for green energy in Ukraine as the country seeks to re-secure its energy needs in light of the damage done to infrastructure like dams and power stations.

Sunak then announced that, with a growing need for private investment and support, the City of London would play a significant role with a new platform through which private companies could donate to the reconstruction effort in Ukraine – providing access to companies with huge resources available to them around the world.

USA

Antony Blinken, the US secretary of state, set out a wider context, saying that reconstruction should make Ukraine more resilient and better connected to Europe. 

Blinken explained that this was about laying the foundation for Ukraine to thrive as a secure, independent country fully integrated into Europe and markets around the world, with a fully functioning democracy at home. Every investment made, he explained, must aim for that goal.

In that light, he announced that Congress had agreed to provide an additional $1.3bn of aid. $520m of that would be provided to rebuild Ukraine’s energy grid and make it cleaner, more resilient and better integrated with Europe.

A further $657m was announced to help modernise Ukraine’s border crossings, railways and ports to better connect Ukraine to Europe and help it trade in more goods more effectively. A further $100m would be allocated to help digitise Ukraine’s customs systems to boost speed and improve transparency.

France

French foreign minister Catherine Colonna made an impassioned call for reconstruction not only because it was important for its own sake, but to “send a signal to Putin that we are here as long as it takes. He will not be able to wait us out.”

She announced that France was now providing most of its support to Ukraine in the form of grants, not loans, to aid the recovery of the country’s public finances. She also announced funding for a programme of emergency reconstruction and health equipment, as well as support for winter resilience where needed.  

Colonna then highlighted what became a major theme of the two-day conference – providing the insurance needed for companies to work in what might be dangerous conditions. So she announced that France will establish an insurance mechanism for investments in Ukraine, protecting companies from any losses caused by war damage. This will be run through the French public investment bank.

Poland

Poland’s foreign minister Zbigniew Rau said that the challenge ahead was “staggering by nature and overwhelming by scale,” before he focused on the substantial involvement needed from both public and private sectors.   

Rau said that this meant Ukraine becoming a robust market economy in a rules-based system, as part of the EU as soon as possible. So he told the EU to be ready by the end of this year to begin formal negotiations with Ukraine.

Looking at reconstruction itself, he said that governments must prepare the institutional and legal frameworks to mobilise financial resources, which is a major long-term challenge. To accommodate that, he promised that Poland – with extensive borders with Ukraine – would offer itself as a transport, logistics and international hub for Ukraine’s reconstruction activities.  

To help ease that process, he said that Poland had also now enabled the extension of insurance to support export of goods and materials to Ukraine. And he promised a dedicated programme for reconstruction, with trade insurance support being provided to cover international companies, not just Polish companies.

Ukraine

The prime minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, thanked the international community for its support and set out the plan for Ukraine going forward.

He stressed that they wanted to join the European Union quickly and have already begun the long and difficult road to rebuilding. Last year, he explained they had talked about the wider need for reconstruction but were now in a position to talk details, discuss progress, and win the peace.

To get to this point, he said they had undertaken a professional and independent assessment of reconstruction needs with the EU, UN and World Bank and that this represented the largest reconstruction project in Europe since the second world war.

That said, he stressed that recovery had to be based on priorities – energy, humanitarian, housing and infrastructure – and supporting the economy. Alongside this though, he said that transparency and accountability were crucial because the huge scale of reconstruction demanded it. So, he said his government must work hard to make Ukraine’s reconstruction synonymous with those two words.