By RFE/RL staff
- Ukraine President Zelenskiy told a conference of EU politicians that Russi has destroyed a third of Ukraine’s energy sector.
- Zelenskiy added that Putin is aiming to make it harder for Ukraine to “get through winter.”
- Addressing the gathering, EU head Ursula Von der Leyen said the attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure amounted to “pure acts of terrorism.
Russian rockets and Iranian-made drones have destroyed more than one-third of Ukraine’s energy sector, President Volodymyr Zelenskiy told a conference on Ukraine reconstruction on October 25.
“Russia is destroying everything so that it is harder for us to get through the winter,” Zelenskiy said via video link to the Berlin conference, which was attended by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and other senior politicians and officials.
Addressing the gathering, Von der Leyen said the attacks on Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure amounted to “pure acts of terrorism” and called the scale of destruction in Ukraine “staggering,” with the World Bank estimating the toll of the damage at 350 billion euros ($345 billion).
Von der Leyen said a coordination platform for Ukraine’s reconstruction needed to be launched “as soon as possible, preferable before the end of the year or early at the beginning of next year.”
Scholz told the conference that Russia’s sustained drone attacks represent a new low point in its war against Ukraine but are also a sign of Moscow’s desperation.
Scholz said rebuilding Ukraine was a “generational task” that must start immediately, even as Russia’s invasion rages on.
“What is at stake here is nothing less than creating a new Marshall Plan for the 21st century — a generational task that must begin now,” Scholz said.
However, Zelenskiy told the conference that Ukraine had yet to receive “a single cent” toward a fast recovery plan worth a total $17 billion.
He also asked the international community to cover an expected budget deficit of $38 billion next year for his war-torn country.
And the Ukrainian Minister for Communities and Territories Development, Oleksiy Chernyshov, said the reconstruction of Ukraine must begin even while the fighting continues.
“It is very important to understand that given the fact the war is still going on, the initial recovery should start right now,” Chernyshov told German news agency dpa ahead of the start of the conference.