Ukraine finance minister eyes reconstruction as war rages

“Consumer demand is rising,” said Mr Marchenko, who sported jeans and a mustard-coloured hoodie for the interview as – like other Ukrainian officials – the 41-year-old minister has traded his formal suit for more casual wear during the war.

“As of today, 37 embassies have returned to Kyiv and it gives a signal to citizens to return gradually to Kyiv and renew economic activity,” he added.

With heavy fighting continuing in the country’s east and south, many companies have relocated to western Ukraine to keep their businesses running.

If no default on the payment of the foreign debt or even its rescheduling is envisaged by Kyiv, “we need US$5 billion a month to cover the budget deficit,” the minister said.

His priority is now to ensure the flow of permanent international financial aid.

“We are asking for a high level of financial support but the price is also high. This for us is a way to survive,” Mr Marchenko said.

Facing the Kremlin’s advancing forces, the economist said Kyiv is “now an outpost for democracy” and defeat is not an option.

“We cannot lose this war and we need the arms, finances and sanctions.”

Vast amounts of funds are needed not only for the war effort, but also to rebuild Ukraine.

President Volodymyr Zelensky has already called for a new Marshall Plan – the US economic aid programme for the reconstruction of Europe after World War II – for his country.

Mr Marchenko said he backed using Russian assets seized abroad to rebuild Ukraine – an idea floated by several Western countries, including the United States.

He also accused Russian forces of mass “robbery” in Ukraine, saying Russian soldiers have stolen from ordinary people’s homes as well as grain and “other mineral, raw, intellectual resources.”

“We are dealing with bandits who entered the house and are taking away everything they like,” he said, calling it the “banal robbery of a country.”

Mr Marchenko said it is Ukraine’s critical infrastructure – such as roads, bridges and power supplies – that has suffered most and that needs to be rebuilt first.

He wants people to return to territories retaken by Kyiv and “start a normal life with electricity, water and gas supplies”.


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