Russia-Ukraine War: Live Updates – The New York Times

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For Ukrainians living through war, the cost of the conflict is difficult to measure: thousands of people killed, countless homes and buildings destroyed by missiles, families displaced, livelihoods lost. But international leaders gather for a second day in the Swiss lakeside city of Lugano on Tuesday in an effort to do just that.

The leaders, together with aid organizations and financial institutions, map out the massive efforts needed to rebuild war-ravaged Ukraine.

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

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

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

He repeated that message in his overnight address to Ukraine.

Whatever the cost, Ukraine’s international allies will face an uphill battle 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 117th out of 180 countries on the corruption index in 2020.

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

Earlier this year, donor pledges for Afghanistan and Yemen fell far short of United Nations targets. In Afghanistan, where Taliban policies have hampered aid efforts, the UN said it needed $4.4 billion in humanitarian aid this year alone, but raised $2.4 billion. Of the $4.3 billion sought for Yemen, $1.3 billion was contributed.

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 in attendance were the President of the European Union’s Executive Branch, Ursula von der Leyen, who called the reconstruction of Ukraine “a generational task”, and the British Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, along with senior officials from Europe, Northern Americas and Asia and representatives of major international financial institutions.

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

“Any discussion about Ukraine’s post-war recovery is pointless if they do not prioritize restoring people’s moral and physical health,” Ms Zelenska said in her speech on Monday.

Issues of governance and corruption are still being discussed at the Lugano meeting, which have seen a newfound prominence in recent weeks: when the European Union accepted Ukraine as a candidate for full membership last month, it said progress on corruption and the rule of law would be necessary to advance the application.

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

Britain said it would provide more than $1 billion in World Bank loans and tax relief grants and would guarantee World Bank loans for another half a billion dollars, along with immediate support for landmine clearance and rebuilding Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

Vivek Shankar reporting contributed.

Correction

July 5, 2022

In an earlier version of this article, the last name of the President of the European Commission was misspelled. She is Ursula von der Leyen, not van der Leyen.

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