The aim of URC 2023 is to mobilise international support for Ukraine’s economic and social stabilisation and recovery from the effects of the Russian war of aggression. Foreign Minister Baerbock stressed:
“Thousands of Ukrainian schools have been reduced to rubble, hundreds of thousands of homes have been destroyed, Russian bombs have fallen on factories, power plants and railway stations. With its war of attrition, Russia wants to bring Ukraine to its knees and to prevent a free and economically strong Ukraine from existing alongside Putin’s isolated and corrupt regime.
Together with Development Minister Svenja Schulze, I will make it clear at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in London that Germany’s support is rock solid: today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow. For to ensure lasting peace, it is not enough for Ukraine to win the war – we want it to become part of the European peace and prosperity project. That is in our own best interest.”
Reconstruction in Ukraine involves a wide range of fields falling within the remit of several German ministries: from stabilisation and mine clearance to the rehabilitation of infrastructure, supported by investment guarantees, domestic reforms and the prospect of the EU accession process. Commenting on German support, Baerbock said:
“We will therefore respond to Putin’s blind destructive fury with a reconstruction offensive: in the short term, we are providing a huge volume of new humanitarian assistance in support of the families worst hit by destruction, flooding and displacement. In the medium term, we intend to contribute to the funding of the reconstruction. Above all, however, in the long term we want to help lay the groundwork for a flourishing Ukrainian economy fit for the future via the EU accession process.
The bare figures show the enormity of the reconstruction task: in 2022 alone, Ukraine lost 29 percent of its GDP and its inflation rate went as high as 27 percent. The World Bank estimates that reconstruction will cost more than 400 billion US dollars for the next ten years.”
British Prime Minister Sunak and Ukrainian President Zelensky will open the conference. President Zelensky will be taking part via video link. Foreign Minister Baerbock will be speaking in the opening panel.
Focus in London: Private sector
URC 2023 is the latest in a series of conferences on Ukraine that originally began in 2017 as reform conferences. At the conference in Lugano in 2022, in light of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the focus was shifted to reconstruction in Ukraine. This time, the UK is placing particular emphasis on private-sector involvement in the reconstruction process. On this subject, Foreign Minister Baerbock said:
Private-sector investment will therefore be especially important in the coming years to ensure sustained development. The fact that many German companies are still operating in Ukraine despite the war gives me great hope. Every good delivered, every service provided, means jobs and prospects for the future for the people of Ukraine. The German Government will continue to support them, for instance with national investment guarantees. It is therefore important that the UK is also hosting this conference as an investment fair for private-sector companies.
Germany will host the next URC in 2024.