URC 2023, which opened in London on the morning of Wednesday, June 21, is intended to mobilize further international support for Ukraine’s recovery from the effects of Russia’s illegal war. President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the conference by video link from Kyiv, while Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal attended in person.


The UK is hosting this year’s event and the UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, opened the conference outlining his views that Ukraine must be supported to enable it to fast-track recovery to ensure that “[we] help Ukraine unleash its potential.”


“It’s clear Russia must pay for the destruction that they’ve inflicted. So, we’re working with allies to explore lawful routes to use Russian assets,” he said.



Sunak outlined a package of support including loan guarantees worth $3 billion, over three years, and $318 million of new capital for the British International Investment mechanism in Ukraine. He also announced a new framework for war risk insurance, aimed at encouraging and helping businesses to invest in Ukraine.


"This is a huge step forward towards helping insurers to underwrite investments into Ukraine, removing one of the biggest barriers and giving investors the confidence, they need to act,” he added.


He also informed the audience that the UK was introducing new laws that will allow Russian sanctions to be maintained until compensation has been paid to Ukraine and a way for frozen Russian assets to be donated to Ukrainian reconstruction.

Poland and Ukraine - Divided in Past, United in Present
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Poland and Ukraine - Divided in Past, United in Present

Historical antagonism in the past between the two nations now united against Russian aggression is undeniable. Yet in more recent times reconciliation appears to have become an unstoppable process.


In his address to the conference Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking by video link from Kyiv, urged Western leaders and those present to consider the reconstruction of his country as an essential part of its fight for freedom and help rebuild his war-torn country. In a straightforward, some might say blunt, appeal he said that Ukraine needs more than simple promises, it needs concrete commitments to projects that will help Ukraine not only recover but to develop into a leading Western democracy.



He once again, if obliquely, pressed Kyiv’s case for membership of the EU and NATO. He said that Ukraine has succeeded in making the EU as united “as it has never been before,” and that his country was “activating the moral force of NATO.”


UK Foreign Secretary, UK Prime Minister, Ukrainian Prime Minister, Ukrainian Foreign Minister, EC President, US Secretary of State – listen to President Zelenzky


Photo: UK FCDO/URC 2023


Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal asked the conference to provide a further $6 billion, to meet the estimated $14 billion needed to support urgent rebuilding projects over the next 12 months, saying Russia's war meant Kyiv was facing the largest reconstruction project in Europe since World War Two. He said that he would be trying to secure the funds to cover the shortfall during the course of the conference.


The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, declared that the European Union had a “special responsibility” toward Ukraine in the long term. She outlined that the EU would provide Ukraine with €50 billion ($55 billion) for 2024-27.



“This is for Ukraine’s immediate needs. But let’s talk about the future. I believe the European Union has a special responsibility,” von der Leyen said. “Ukrainians tell us that when they imagine their future, they see Europe’s flag flying over their cities. And I have no doubt that Ukraine will be part of our union.”


A later speaker, French Foreign Minister, Catherine Colonna, announced the French government’s plan to introduce an insurance mechanism alongside that proposed by Britain. This would be “…an insurance mechanism to cover investments in Ukraine against war-related risks via the French public investment bank.”


Colonna revealed that France would provide an immediate additional €40 million ($44 million) to fund the emergency reconstruction of critical infrastructure and health equipment.


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke about immediate US additional funding to

help the Ukrainian recovery: “We will provide more than $1.3 billion in additional aid to help Ukraine.”


This would include $520 million to repair and overhaul its energy grid. Another $100 million is to be used in the digitization of Ukraine’s customs and other systems “to boost speed and to cut corruption” and $35 million to help Ukrainian businesses through financing and insurance.



The new aid is in addition to more than $20 billion in economic and development assistance the US has already provided to Ukraine, Blinken said.

He went on: “Recovery is about laying the foundation for Ukraine to thrive as a secure, independent country, fully integrated with Europe, connected to markets around the world.”


Another speaker, Mark Waddington, CEO of Hope and Homes for Children, said that any “Marshall Plan” for Ukraine should replace Ukraine’s institutional care systems with modern social services that protect children and help keep families together.


“Now, at a time of war, children need loving and comforting families more than ever... [We must take] this incredible opportunity to talk about the physical reconstruction of buildings, roads and infrastructure, but it must also address social reconstruction that directly serves families and children.


He concluded that: “This must include a commitment to closing every last children’s institution in Ukraine and creating a modern care system that helps to keep families together. Families are the future of Ukraine, and leaders at the recovery conference must not ignore this.”



German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock committed an extra €381 million in humanitarian assistance in 2023. This would be to provide “…everything from generators to food, and tents for those who have fled or lost their homes recently.”


Poland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zbigniew Rau, tweeted that Poland has prepared a law that will enable insurance coverage for the transport of goods to and from Ukraine to be extended, as well as other, unspecified, investment activities.



Japanese Foreign Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi has said that Japan will host a conference to encourage investment in Ukraine at some point in early 2024, a plan that Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida had shared with President Zelensky during the G7 meeting in Hiroshima. He also said that Tokyo was planning to support mine clearance and basic infrastructure projects in Ukraine.

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