The Russian invasion has so far destroyed about $100 billion worth of roads, bridges and businesses in Ukraine, dealing a huge blow to its economy, a Kiev government official said Thursday.
“Currently, about 50 percent of our companies are not running, and those that are still operating are not working 100 percent,” said Oleg Ustenko, chief economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
“The situation in terms of economic growth will be really depressing even if the war ends immediately,” he said in a virtual speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Ustenko reiterated his call on European and other governments to cut off Moscow’s access to “blood money” by boycotting Russian oil and natural gas.
“Europeans are still paying this monster to kill our people, innocent people,” he said.
While European countries depend on Russian energy for heat, “I can assure you that it is much, much, much colder in Ukraine’s underground, where the people are hidden.”
The official praised the US for halting Russian oil imports and said he hoped Washington would also help create a “recovery fund” for Ukraine.
Kiev could also use the roughly $300 billion in Russian central bank reserves frozen as a result of Western sanctions, as well as funds seized from oligarchs who are allies of President Vladimir Putin.
“We need to rebuild the economy,” he said.
The International Monetary Fund approved $1.4 billion in fast-disbursing aid to Ukraine on Wednesday, and the World Bank released nearly $500 million this week of what is expected to be a $3 billion financing package.
In addition, the US Congress on Wednesday approved $14 billion in aid to Ukraine.
But Ustenko said: ‘What we need most of all is more weapons and ammunition. This is critical.”