Rebuilding Ukraine: How difficult will it be to restore the country after the Russia conflict?

Digital Originals

In September 2022, the World Bank calculated that Ukraine had sustained more than $97 billion in direct damages through May in the Russian-Ukraine conflict. However, according to the World Bank, the Ukrainian government and European Commission, the effort to rebuild the country could cost a staggering $350 billion.

The conflict has also resulted in $252 billion in losses generated by reductions in agricultural production, loss of electricity for businesses and transportation. It has taken a serious bite out of Ukraine’s economy.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has also lobbied for global postwar assistance with the rebuilding of the country, likening it to the 1948 Marshall Plan, the U.S. aid program for Western Europe in the wake of World War II.

But early estimates have been equally as steep, ranging from $138 billion to $750 billion.

While Zelenskyy has started some rebuilding efforts, the on-going conflict makes it difficult to make substantial progress.

The cost of the damage in Ukraine

The country’s housing and transportation sectors have taken some of the biggest losses from the fighting.

According to the World Bank, total damage to Ukraine’s housing sector by the start of June 2022 was estimated to be $39.2 billion. More than 817,000 residential units had been damaged, with 38 percent destroyed beyond repair.

The country’s transportation sector was also heavily targeted by Russian forces leading to billions of dollars of losses and damage. The World Bank estimates Ukraine’s transportation sector suffered about $30 billion of damage and $26 billion in losses. The largest concentration involved roads, motorways and highways.

Other sectors were hit hard by the conflict.

The World Bank says the health sector lost an estimated $6.4 billion, while the agricultural sector, a major provider for the country’s GDP lost $28.3 billion.

The cost of rebuilding

Reports find that $105 billion are needed in the short term to address urgent priorities, including projects to rebuild schools and more than 500 hospitals.

Beyond infrastructure, the World Bank says social sectors, like housing, education, culture and health will be the main beneficiaries for any short-term recovery.

Other sectors including environmental management, emergency response and civil protection are also in need of short-term recovery, with $11 billion needed immediately for land decontamination, clearing mines and explosive remnants.

Plans for a post-conflict rebuild

Rebuilding during the conflict in Ukraine would be challenging.

United24, a fund founded by President Zelenskyy, has raised around $18 million in donations. The money will be used to rebuild 18 apartment blocks in the Kyiv commuter areas.

But the effort has not been without controversy. Ukraine’s deputy minister of infrastructure is accused of stealing $400,000 from a winter aid budget.

Ukraine has tapped other investors to help with their rebuilding efforts, including JPMorgan Chase.

Ukraine has also teamed up with Columbia Law School in New York to establish the International Claims and Reparations Project, with a focus on recouping some reparations from Russia.

Radio Free Europe says that scholars are looking at options in getting Russia to pay reparations and making it part of any peace agreement.

The head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristalina Georgieva, told world leaders in October that the task wouldn’t be easy, while German Chancellor Olaf Scholz echoed the call for a “new Marshall Plan” and rebuilding the country will be a “generational task that must begin now.”