LONDON — Western nations on Wednesday pledged tens of billions of dollars in new financial aid to rebuild war-torn Ukraine at a two-day conference of donors convened by the British government in the shadow of Kevin’s counterattack against Russia.
The pledges — issued by Britain, the United States and the European Union — sought to shift public attention, for now, from the battlefield to Ukraine’s years-long reconstruction following the war. Economists estimate that the reconstruction program will cost between $400 billion and $1 trillion.
The conference also shed light on the possibilities Writing off the cost of reconstruction using confiscated Russian assets — a legally tricky proposition, but gaining traction in the West nonetheless. Britain and the European Union are exploring ways to divert these assets, estimated to be worth at least $300 billion.
“As we have seen in Pakmut and Mariupol, Russia will seek to destroy what it cannot take,” British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak opened the conference. “They want to do the same to Ukraine’s economy.”
Speaking to participants via video link, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky argued that economic opportunity lies in the ruins of his country. He thanked the donors and asked them to start investing now. “We need to move from visions to agreements and from agreements to actual plans,” he said.
Britain announced a package that included 240 million pounds ($305 million) in additional direct economic aid and $3 billion in World Bank loan guarantees. The loans are meant to encourage the influx of new private investment to rebuild Ukrainian towns and cities destroyed by Russian troops.
The European Union has drawn up an ambitious package that includes 50 billion euros (about $55 billion) in aid from 2024 to 2027. About 17 billion euros will be available in grants and the rest in low-interest loans. The package must be ratified by all 27 members of the bloc, however, and it may face obstacles.
“This program will become an anchor for all international donors,” said European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen. “That’s what I mean by how long we’re with Ukraine.”
The United States announced $1.3 billion in additional economic aid, roughly split between funds to replace Ukraine’s heavily damaged energy infrastructure and modernize ports, railways and border crossings.
“As Russia continues to destroy, we are here to help rebuild Ukraine,” said Secretary of State Anthony J. Blinken said the package had bipartisan support in Congress. “Recovery is laying the foundation for Ukraine to prosper.”
The United States has given Ukraine more than $20 billion in economic development aid, and $2.1 billion in humanitarian aid, Mr. Blinken said. It is the largest military aid provider to the Ukrainian military.
Britain, which is also one of Ukraine’s biggest military aid providers, is leveraging London’s position as a global center for finance and insurance to encourage foreign investment by trying to reduce risks for investors. The $3 billion in loan guarantees extends over three years and is backed by more than 400 companies from 38 countries, including Virgin, Sanofi, Philips and Hyundai Engineering, Mr. Sunak said.
Although fighting is still ongoing in southern and eastern Ukraine, it is important to start planning for the post-war reconstruction process to avoid delays in Europe’s post-World War II reconstruction, analysts said.
“Without any planning, these delays can escalate and lead to human misery and the failure of economies and basically foreign policy failures,” Howard Schatz, a senior economist at the RAND Corporation, told reporters last week. “So it’s important to start planning now.”