Oligarchs should pay the bill to rebuild, says Ukrainian PM

Published July 5, 2022
Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal delivers a speech at the start of a two-day International conference on reconstruction of Ukraine, in Lugano on Monday. — AFP
Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal delivers a speech at the start of a two-day International conference on reconstruction of Ukraine, in Lugano on Monday. — AFP

LUGANO: The cost of rebuilding Ukraine following Russia’s invasion could reach $750 billion and rich Russians should help pay the bill, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said on Monday.

“We believe that the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs,” he told a conference in the Swiss city of Lugano, citing estimates that frozen Russian assets were worth $300-$500 billion.

“The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction and they should be held accountable for it.” Russia has said its “special military operation” in Ukraine is meant to demilitarise its southern neighbour and protect Russian speakers from what it calls nationalists. Ukraine and its Western allies say this is a baseless pretext for flagrant aggression that aims to seize territory.

Shmygal’s views on Monday was echoed by British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss who said Russia needed to be held accountable for the damage caused by its “appalling war,” while Kyiv also needed help to rebuild its shattered economy.

“We are looking at options for the deployment of Rus­sian assets,” Truss said on the sidelines of the conference.

“At the same time we are doing what we can to get the Ukrainian economy restarted — getting those grain exports out of Odesa, making sure we are supporting Ukrainian industry and business to get going,” she said.

Shipping insurance and adequate weaponry to protect ports exporting grain were among the areas being looked at, Truss said.

Also addressing the Ukra­ine Recovery Conference, European Commission Pres­ident Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union would establish a central platform to coordinate rebuilding efforts and also help to cement Ukraine’s status as a candidate for EU membership, which the EU agreed last month.

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2022

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