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Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction needs $411 bn

President Zelenskiy visits troops near frontline city of Bakhmut
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy awards a service member at a position near a frontline in Donetsk region, Ukraine. - Reuters
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy awards a service member at a position near a frontline in Donetsk region, Ukraine. - Reuters

WASHINGTON: Rebuilding Ukraine's economy after Russia's war more than a year ago is now expected to cost $411 billion, 2.6 times Ukraine's expected 2022 gross domestic product, a new study by the World Bank, United Nations, European Commission and Ukraine found.

The estimate released on Wednesday covers the period spanning one year from Russia's war on February 24, 2022 and quantifies the direct physical damage to infrastructure and buildings, the impact on people's lives and livelihoods and the cost to "build back better," the World Bank said.

The amount is up sharply from an estimate of $349 billion released last September.

The new projection comes a day after the International Monetary Fund said its staff had reached agreement with Ukrainian authorities on a four-year $15.6 billion loan package that could leverage billions more in aid from other bodies, once approved by the IMF's executive board in coming weeks.

"Energy infrastructure, housing, critical infrastructure, economy and humanitarian demining are our five priorities for this year," Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said in a statement on the assessment.

He said the estimated damage and recovery needs did not include data on the loss of infrastructure, housing and businesses in territories now occupied by Russian forces.

According to the rapid needs assessment, Ukraine will need $14 billion for critical and priority reconstruction and recovery investments in 2023, which will require $11 billion in financing beyond that addressed in Ukraine's 2023 budget.

Some 22 per cent of the needs are in transport, while housing accounts for 17 per cent, energy 11 per cent and agriculture 7 per cent.

The largest proportionate increase was in energy, where damage was more than five times the level seen in June 2022, the World Bank said. The biggest jumps came in frontline regions such as Donetsk, Kharkiv, Luhansk and Kherson, which have been heavily targeted in Russian missile attacks since October.

The World Bank's vice president for Europe and Central Asia, Anna Bjerde, hailed Ukraine's resilience and determination in tackling the urgent recovery and reconstruction needs.

"Continued support for Ukraine is an investment in both the country and the global economy. Development partner support for public investment needs to be complemented by significant private investment to increase the available financing for reconstruction," she said.


President Volodymyr Zelenskiy visited Ukrainian troops on Wednesday near the frontline city of Bakhmut, and handed out medals to soldiers he said were heroically defending their country's sovereignty.

Ukrainian forces have held out for about eight months in Bakhmut, despite taking heavy casualties in one of the bloodiest battles since Russia's full-scale war 13 months ago.

Video footage posted on social media showed Zelenskiy, dressed in a dark sweatshirt and military khaki trousers, handing out awards to exhausted-looking soldiers in combat gear in what appeared to be a large warehouse.

"I am honoured to be here today to give awards to our heroes. To shake hands and thank them for protecting the sovereignty of our country," Zelenskiy wrote on the Telegram messaging app under the video footage.

"Your fate is so difficult, yet so historic. To defend our land and to return everything to Ukraine for our children," he said. "I bow low before all the heroes, your close comrades you have lost in the east, and in general throughout this war."

Zelenskiy has portrayed "Fortress Bakhmut" as a symbol of defiance which is bleeding the Russian military dry.

Reminiscent of World War One, the battle for Bakhmut has been fought from trenches with relentless artillery and rocket strikes across a heavily mined battlefield described as a "meat grinder" by commanders on both sides.

Zelenskiy has visited frontline troops several times during the war. Wednesday's visit followed days after Russian President Vladimir Putin went to the city of Mariupol -- his first to any Russian-occupied part of Ukraine's industrial Donbas region since the war began and the closest he has been to front lines.

A separate video on Wednesday showed Zelenskiy visiting wounded soldiers undergoing treatment. He shook the wounded soldiers' hands, thanked them for their service and presented some of them with medals. - Agencies

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