Commentary: The price of rebuilding Ukraine goes up each day – but shirking the bill will


Achieving long-term stability in Ukraine will require political, social and economic recovery. Money is needed for everything from rebuilding hospitals and recovering farmland to removing land mines and reopening schools.

At the centre of any postwar reconstruction effort, however, is infrastructure. Robust, well-functioning infrastructure is essential for providing basic services such as housing, energy and transportation. It’s also the scaffolding that supports economic recovery.

Infrastructure’s critical importance is precisely why it’s so often targeted during war. Destroying factories, bridges and power plants thwarts a country’s warfighting capacity. At the same time, it undermines a government’s ability to offer basic public services.

It’s no surprise, then, that Russia has systematically attacked Ukraine’s transportation networks and energy production since the start of the invasion.

The damage has been catastrophic. An estimated US$100 billion worth of infrastructure was destroyed in the war’s first month alone. Now, as the conflict enters its third year, at least half of the country’s energy grid and one-third of its transportation networks have been damaged as a result of Russian attacks.

And the situation continues to escalate. Drone and missile strikes throughout early 2024 have been aimed directly at Ukrainian power generation and distribution, reducing energy companies’ output by up to 80 per cent and leaving nearly 2 million people without power.

The result is not just a political and economic crisis but also a humanitarian one. Lost power, along with damage to medical and educational facilities, has contributed to the massive displacement of more than 13 million people from areas where they can no longer receive daily necessities such as food, power and health care.

The United Nations’ refugee agency estimates that no less than 40 per cent of the country needs urgent humanitarian support.

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