WORLD

Before the peace summit in Switzerland… Germany hosts a conference for the reconstruction of Ukraine

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Germany is hosting a conference on Tuesday and Wednesday to rally support for rebuilding Ukraine from the devastation inflicted by Russia’s war, in a new sign of solidarity with Kiev at the start of a week of intense diplomacy.

The two-day Ukraine reconstruction conference in Berlin follows a similar meeting in London a year ago, ahead of a G7 summit of Ukraine’s main Western allies in Italy and a world peace summit in Switzerland next weekend.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who last week attended the activities celebrating the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landing in France, will participate in the conference, which the German hosts say will bring together two thousand people from the world of politics, business and other fields.

“Even in current times of war, Ukraine needs to constantly rebuild homes, water pipelines, hospitals and electricity networks,” German Development Minister Svenia Schulze said in a statement. She added: “People want to continue living in their country, and in order to do that, they need electricity, water and a roof over their heads.”

Schulze added that the task of supporting Ukraine’s reconstruction in the short and long term “is too big for governments alone – which is why we specifically invite companies, civil society and municipalities to the conference.”

Among other immediate problems facing Ukraine are ongoing Russian attacks on the power grid in recent weeks that have forced leaders in Kiev to impose nationwide blackouts.

Ukraine’s allies in London last year pledged several billion dollars in non-military aid to rebuild the country’s infrastructure, fight corruption and help pave Kiev’s path toward joining the European Union.

This focus on reforms remains central this year.

“We are doing everything we can so that Ukraine can soon sit at the EU table – because in addition to our military support, that is the best protection available,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said.

On Monday, the head of the State Agency for the Restoration of Ukraine, Mustafa Naim, announced his resignation on Facebook. He cited “systematic obstacles that prevent me from exercising my powers effectively” and accused the government of miring his agency in red tape.

Ukraine has not had a dedicated minister for reconstruction since Oleksandr Kubrakov was sacked in May. Naeem complained that the Ukrainian Prime Minister prevented him from attending the Berlin conference.

Zelensky, who is on his third visit to Berlin since the start of Russia’s all-out invasion on February 24, 2022, is also expected to address the German parliament, or Bundestag. He gave a video speech to lawmakers a few weeks after the war began.

The Ukrainian president’s last visit was in mid-February, when he signed a bilateral security agreement with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, one of a series of such agreements the allies reached with Kiev to signal their long-term support.

Additional sources • dad