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Ukraine Appeals for $17bn Emergency Fund As Winter Looms

Ukraine has appealed for foreign support to fund an emergency $17bn infrastructure package as the country prepares for the onset of winter.

Prime minister Denys Shmyhal on Friday called for help to cover a “first stage, rapid recovery” package, including $3.4bn needed immediately to shield citizens from the impact of colder weather.

Average temperatures in Ukraine typically fall from 20C in summer to minus 3C in winter, with an average of minus 7C in some regions, according to the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia.

Shmyhal said “the mobilisation of joint resources of the Ukrainian government and international partners” was needed after a meeting on Friday with Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, in Brussels.

The call follows the publication on Friday of a fresh economic assessment from Kyiv, produced with the World Bank and the commission, which puts the cost of damage inflicted by Russia between its invasion on February 24 and June 1 at $97bn.

The cost of reconstruction and recovery from that damage is estimated to be $349bn. A third of Ukraine’s population has been displaced by the war, with 6.8mn residents having left the country and a further 6.6mn people internally displaced.

Arup Banerji, the World Bank’s regional director for eastern Europe, said the bank was “terribly concerned” about the arrival of winter.

“The damage that Ukraine has suffered has been just staggering,” said Banerji. “Ukraine’s winter season starts on October 15 and can be really harsh. This could be quite devastating given that many houses have windows and doors missing and there are so many internally displaced people.”

Banerji praised the international community for providing about $1.5bn a month to support Ukraine’s budgetary needs, but said commitments made to date ran only as far as the end of 2022.

Foreign support for Kyiv “has been on and off from different actors at different times, although right now it is coming through strongly . . . but our attention has to turn now to 2023. Discussions have begun but right now no commitments have been made by any partners of Ukraine”, he added.

The EU promised Ukraine €9bn in budgetary support in May, but only about €1bn has been disbursed. Kyiv is running budget deficits of about $5bn a month and has cut all but essential spending in an effort to continue paying pensions and salaries to essential workers.

Von der Leyen said on Friday that €5bn was “in the pipeline” from the EU, on top of €10bn already mobilised in financial, humanitarian, emergency and military assistance.

“Ukraine is fighting for democracy and our common values,” she said. “The EU cannot match the sacrifice Ukraine is enduring, but we are mobilising all our instruments to address the most immediate needs, including for housing for internally displaced populations and to repair critical infrastructure.”

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