Russo-Ukrainian War: Live Updates – The New York Times

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For Ukrainians living through war, the cost of the conflict is hard to measure: thousands of people killed, countless homes and buildings destroyed by missiles, families displaced, livelihoods lost. But international leaders are meeting in the Swiss Lake Lugano city for a second day on Tuesday with the aim of doing just that.

Leaders, joined by aid organizations and financial institutions, are planning the monumental effort it will take to rebuild war-torn Ukraine.

Nearly five months of war have damaged crucial infrastructure – factories, airports, train stations – and wiped out residential buildings, schools, hospitals, churches and shopping malls. And the bombs keep falling. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told those gathered in Lugano on Monday that the cost of reconstruction was estimated at $750 billion.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned the conference that the task of rebuilding the country would be “colossal”. Russia’s indiscriminate bombing was an attempt not only to destroy Ukraine, but also the vision of democracy and Europe, he said via video link, making the war “not just ours, not just a local war”.

“This is Russia’s attack on everything of value to you and me,” he added. “Therefore, the reconstruction of Ukraine is not a local project, not a project of one nation, but a common task of the whole democratic world.”

He reiterated this message in his nightly speech in Ukraine.

Whatever the cost, Ukraine’s international allies will face an uphill struggle to help rebuild a former Soviet state with a culture of endemic corruption and fragile democratic institutions. Transparency International, an anti-corruption watchdog, ranked Ukraine 117 out of 180 countries on its corruption index in 2020.

At the same time, while more aid pledges would be welcomed by Ukraine, many Western countries and their publics are suffering from war fatigue amid soaring inflation and rising food and gas prices. And it remains to be seen how far countries will be willing to go to help Ukraine when the war ends.

Earlier this year, donor pledges for Afghanistan and Yemen fell far short of the targets set by the United Nations. In Afghanistan, where Taliban policies have complicated aid efforts, the UN said $4.4 billion was needed this year for humanitarian aid alone, but $2.4 billion has been raised. Of the $4.3 billion requested for Yemen, $1.3 billion has been paid.

Mr. Zelensky sent Mr. Shmyhal and other members of his cabinet to Lugano, a picturesque lakeside town, for two days of talks with a cast of international heavyweights. Also present were EU executive chairwoman Ursula von der Leyen, who called rebuilding Ukraine a “generational task”, and British foreign secretary Liz Truss, as well as senior officials from Europe, North America and Asia. and representatives of major international financial institutions.

The meeting was planned long before the war as one of a series of conferences focusing on the fight against corruption in Ukraine. But after Russia began its invasion on February 24, the focus shifted to recovery. Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska also addressed the Lugano conference via video link on Monday and announced another gathering of first ladies and gentlemen from around the world on July 23. She held the group’s first summit last year in Kyiv, the capital.

“Any discussion of Ukraine’s post-war recovery is meaningless if it does not prioritize restoring people’s moral and physical health,” Ms Zelenska said in her address on Monday.

The Lugano meeting is still discussing issues of governance and corruption, which have taken on renewed importance in recent weeks: when the European Union last month accepted Ukraine as a candidate for full membership, it said that progress on corruption and the rule of law would be necessary to advance the claim.

But even before the conference began, a number of countries seemed ready to pledge financial support.

Britain said it would provide more than $1 billion in World Bank loans and budget support grants and guarantee World Bank loans for another half a billion dollars, as well as immediate support for mine clearance and reconstruction of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Vivek Shankar contributed report.

Correction:

July 5, 2022

An earlier version of this article misspelled the European Commission President’s last name. She is Ursula von der Leyen, not van der Leyen.

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