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EU to set up a platform for Ukrainian reconstruction

July 4, 2022

At the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, Ursula von der Leyen said the European Union would set up a platform to coordinate the rebuilding of the country after Russia's invasion.

President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen delivers a speech at the start of a two-day International conference on reconstruction of Ukraine
President of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen said that Europe has a special responsibility and a strategic interest to be at Ukraine’s sideImage: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP
  • EU to set up platform for Ukrainian reconstruction
  • Pope Francis wants to go to Moscow and Kyiv
  • Russia can wage war for a "really long time," says German Chancellor Olaf Scholz
  • The UK will host a conference next year focused on helping Ukraine recover

These live updates are now closed. For the latest coverage of the Ukraine war click here

Kyiv holding talks with Turkey, UN on grain exports — Ukraine's Zelenskyy

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Kyiv is holding talks with Turkey and the United Nations on securing guarantees for grain exports.

"Talks are in fact going on now with Turkey and the UN (and) our representatives who are responsible for the security of the grain that leaves our ports," Zelenskyy said at a news conference during a visit by Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson.

"This is a very important thing that someone guarantees the security of ships for this or that country, apart from Russia, which we do not trust. We therefore need security for those ships which will come here to load foodstuffs," Zelenskyy added.

Ukraine's president said that the UN was "playing a leading role" and that Kyiv was working with the organization "directly."

Germany's Scholz discusses Ukraine strategy with France's Macron

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with French President Emmanuel Maron in Paris on Monday evening to discuss a common strategy for both countries on further supporting Ukraine.

The two leaders also discussed European strategies on energy independence, defense and better securing strategic raw materials.

"Whether at the G7 meeting in Elmau, the NATO summit, or here in Paris, it is good that we are in close exchange on the many pressing issues of these days," Scholz wrote on Twitter.

Ukrainian army: Loss of Lysychansk is 'temporary'

Yuriy Sak, advisor to the Ukrainian defense minister, spoke to DW about Russia's recent capture of Lysychansk, which was one of the last Ukrainian-controlled cities in the eastern Luhansk province. 

"Temporary loss of every meter of territory is significant. And this is why every time when we have to temporarily leave certain areas or certain cities, we insist that we will be back," Sak said.

He added that the Ukrainian government was focused on liberating "all the temporarily occupied territories."

"In those areas where Russians have focused and concentrated all of their firepower, firing tens of thousands of artillery shells a day, it makes sense for Ukrainian armed forces because we value human life to retreat temporarily," Sak added.

He stressed that Russia's key overarching military objective has always been "to encircle Ukrainian armed forces in the east of Ukraine and destroy them," something that Sak insisted Moscow had not been successful at. 

Lithuanian crowdfunding campaign buys drone for Ukraine

Lithuania has taken delivery of a combat drone from Turkey after hundreds of Lithuanians clubbed together to buy it for Ukraine.

The country's defense ministry said it would be handed over to Ukraine as soon as possible.

A Lithuanian crowdfunding campaign to buy the drone raised more than €6 million ($6.25 million) in a few days.

When the Turkish manufacturer Baykar heard about the campaign, they said they would donate the drone for free.

Lithuania's government said it would spend  €1.5 million of the money to arm it, and the rest is going towards humanitarian help for Ukraine.

UK to introduce new sanctions on Belarus

Britain said it would on Tuesday introduce new economic, trade and transport sanctions on Belarus over the country's support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The new package will include import and export bans on goods worth around 60 million pounds (€70 million) including on exports of oil refining goods, advanced technology components and luxury goods, and imports of Belarusian iron and steel.

Britain will also ban more Belarusian companies from issuing debt and securities in London.

Britain has already raised import tariffs on a range of products from Belarus by 35 percentage points and sanctioned Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and senior government officials.

Ukraine's PM says his country needs $750 billion for recovery plan

Ukraine needs $750 billion (€718 billion) for a three-stage recovery plan in the wake of Russia's invasion, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Monday.

Shmyhal also told the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano that there had been over $100 billion (€96 billion) of direct damage to infrastructure from Russia's invasion.

He added that the Ukrainian government believed that a key source of funding for the recovery plan should be assets confiscated from Russian oligarchs.

According to Shmyhal, Ukraine's recovery plan has three phases: A first focused on fixing things that matter for people's daily lives like water supply which is ongoing, a "fast recovery" component that will be launched as soon as fighting ends including temporary housing, hospital and school projects, and one that aims to transform the country over the longer term.

Ukraine: Returning to bombed-out homes

EU to set up platform for Ukrainian reconstruction

The European Union will set up a reconstruction platform to coordinate the rebuilding of Ukraine after its war with Russia, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Monday.

The platform will be used to map investment needs, coordinate action and channel resources, von der Leyen told the Ukraine Recovery Conference in the Swiss city of Lugano.

"Since the beginning of the war, the European Union has mobilized around €6.2 billion ($6.48 billion) in financial support," von der Leyen said. "More will come. We will engage substantially in the mid- and long-term reconstruction."

The platform will bring together countries, institutions, the private sector and civil society. It will also include international organizations like the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank.

"Through the reconstruction platform, the European Commission can offer its extensive expertise in running programs that combine reform and investments," von der Leyen said.

"In addition, we have been working closely with Ukraine for a long time. And this work will only intensify now that Ukraine has formally become a candidate to join our Union."

Europe has a "special responsibility and a strategic interest to be at Ukraine's side," she added.

"The Kremlin's goal is the military, political and economic destruction of Ukraine," she said. "They want to undermine Ukraine's very existence as a state. We cannot and we will not let this happen."

Zelenskyy says Ukraine reconstruction is 'common task' of democratic world

Rebuilding Ukraine is the "common task of the whole democratic world", Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Monday, insisting the recovery of his war-torn country would serve world peace.

"Reconstruction of Ukraine is the biggest contribution to the support of global peace," Zelenskyy said, speaking via video link to the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Lugano, southern Switzerland.

"Russia's war against Ukraine is not only an attempt to seize our land and destroy state institutions, to break our independence. It is a worldview confrontation. The anti-democratic and anti-European system built in Russia is trying to prove that it is supposedly stronger than all of us: Ukraine, Europe, and the democratic world," he said.

Turkey investigates Russian ship over stolen grain claims

Turkey has halted a Russian-flagged cargo ship off its Black Sea coast and is investigating a Ukrainian claim that it was carrying stolen grain, a senior Turkish official said on Monday.

"Upon request, the ship named Zhibek Zholy was halted off Karasu (port)," a senior official said. "The allegations are being investigated thoroughly. It is not written on the grain who it belongs to."

He said Turkey was in contact with Russia, the United Nations and third parties regarding the issue.

Ukraine's ambassador to Turkey said on Sunday the Zhibek Zholy was detained by Turkish customs authorities. Ukraine had previously asked Ankara to detain it, according to an official.

Kyiv has accused Moscow of stealing grain from the territories that Russian forces have seized since their invasion began in late February. The Kremlin has previously denied that Russia has stolen any Ukrainian grain.

Ukraine says it will raise flag again on Snake Island

The Ukrainian flag was delivered by helicopter to Snake Island in the Black Sea, and will be raised when Ukrainian troops return, a Ukrainian military spokesperson said on Monday.

"The territory (Snake Island) has been returned to the jurisdiction of Ukraine," Natalia Humeniuk, spokesperson for Ukraine's southern military command, told a news conference.

Humeniuk had earlier made remarks that the flag had been raised, but later said her statement was meant "metaphorically." 

"No one is taking any risks for the sake of a media photo," she said.

Russian troops occupied the island in the first days of the Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Snake Island is the only noteworthy island in the Black Sea close to Ukraine's southwestern coastline.

Controlling it allowed Russia both a launching point for attacks from the sea and the ability to impede maritime traffic entering or leaving Ukraine.

Putin congratulates Russian troops on 'liberating' Ukraine's Luhansk region

President Vladimir Putin on Monday congratulated Russian troops on "liberating" the eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk, a significant milestone for Moscow in its military campaign in Ukraine.

In a televised meeting with Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu, Putin said the troops involved in the operation to capture the Luhansk region should rest but that other military units should continue fighting.

"Military units, including the East group and the West group, must carry out their tasks according to previously approved plans," Putin told Shoygu.

After giving up on its initial aim of capturing the capital, Kyiv, following tough Ukrainian resistance, Russia has focused its efforts on securing full control of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in eastern Ukraine.

Pope Francis wants to go to Moscow and Kyiv

Pope Francis is considering a trip to Moscow amid the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to Reuters, Francis noted that there had been contacts between Vatican Foreign Minister Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov about a possible trip to Moscow.

"I would like to go [to Ukraine], and I wanted to go to Moscow first," Francis said, adding that he had exchanged messages with Putin hoping for "a small window to serve the cause of peace."

"And now it is possible, after I come back from Canada, it is possible that I manage to go to Ukraine," he said. "The first thing is to go to Russia to try to help in some way, but I would like to go to both capitals."

Francis is expected to visit Canada on July 24-30.

When the Vatican first asked about a trip several months ago, Francis said Moscow replied that it was not the right time.

Commenting on the interview, Ukrainian Foreign Ministry spokesman said Ukraine renewed its invitation to Pope Francis to visit Ukraine and urged him to continue to pray for the Ukrainian people.

Ukrainian officials expect Russian military to move focus to Donetsk region

Following Russia's weekend capture of the eastern Ukrainian city of Lysychansk, its troops are turning their attention to the city of Slovyansk in Donetsk region, the Ukrainian general staff has said.

"The Russians are trying to establish control over the villages of Bohorodychne, Dolyna and Mazanivka, in the direction of Slovyansk," the military's general staff said in its daily update.

All three villages are located less than 20 kilometres to the north and northeast of Slovyansk, on the south side of the Siversky Donets River.

Russian troops were attempting to push Ukrainian forces back to a new defensive line between the towns of Siversk, Soledar and Bakhmut, according to the report. These three towns are about 30 to 40 kilometres east of the Slovyansk-Kramatorsk urban area.

Lysychansk was the last major settlement in Luhansk region still under Ukrainian control, allowing the Russian military to turn its eye to Donetsk.

Luhansk governor Serhiy Gaidai also said that he expected the city of Slovyansk and the town of Bakhmut in particular to come under attack as Russia tries to take full control of what is known as the Donbas in eastern Ukraine.

UK estimates Ukraine grain export to drop by two-thirds

The UK Ministry of Defense says the Russian invasion of Ukraine continues to have a devastating impact on Ukraine’s agricultural sector.

It says the war has affected supply chains for seed and fertilizer that Ukrainian farmers need.

The ministry also said the Russian blockade of Odesa was preventing the export of food. It said Ukraine's grain exports in 2022 unlikely to be more than 35% of the total last year.

Meanwhile, after the last remaining major population center in the Luhansk region — Lysychansk — fell under Russian control, the UK ministry said Russia's focus would likely switch to Donetsk. A large portion of that part of Donbas remains under the control of Ukrainian forces.

"The fight for the Donbas has been grinding and attritional and this is highly unlikely to change in the coming weeks," the ministry said.

Ukraine says G20 summit attendance depends on whether Russia goes

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said his participation in November’s G20 summit in Indonesia depends on whether Russia will attend the gathering.

"Our participation depends on the Russian Federation, whether it will be there," Zelenskyy was quoted as saying by the Interfax-Ukraine news agency.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, the summit's host, issued an invitation to Zelenskyy during his visit to Kyiv last week.

"I told the Indonesian president that we are grateful for the invitation, but we have a security situation," Zelenskyy said, adding that he doubted many leaders would attend the summit if the Russian president planned to be there.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already signaled his intention to attend the G20 summit. But it remains unclear whether he plans to attend the event virtually or in person.

Ukraine recovery meeting to open in Lugano

Leaders from dozens of countries, international organizations and the private sector are meeting in Switzerland to discuss a recovery plan for Ukraine.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will address the gathering virtually.

The two-day conference had been planned well before Russia launched its full-scale invasion on February 24. It had originally been slated to discuss reforms in Ukraine, but after the war began the focus was shifted to reconstruction.

Rebuilding Ukraine once the war ends is expected to cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

The effort will require "colossal investments," Zelenskyy said at the weekend.

Kyiv School of Economics has estimated the damage done so far to buildings and infrastructure at nearly $104 billion (€100 billion).

It estimated that at least 45 million square meters of housing, 256 enterprises, 656 medical institutions, and 1,177 educational institutions had been damaged, destroyed or seized, while Ukraine's economy had already suffered losses of up to $600 billion.

Ukraine's ambassador to Switzerland Artem Rybchenko said ahead of the conference that it would help create "the roadmap" to his country's recovery.

Scholz: Russia can wage war for a 'really long time'

Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Russia's decision to invade Ukraine was made "one year before it started or possibly earlier," adding that he believes Moscow will be "able to continue with the war for a really long time."

During an interview with CBS News' "Face the Nation," Scholz also defended Berlin's delays in delivering weapons to Ukraine.

He said the wait was due to the need to train Ukrainian soldiers in Germany.

"We will always see that Germany is one of the countries that is doing the most, because what we are sending now is the most sophisticated technology you can use," Scholz said.

He also admitted that it had been a mistake by European countries to become so dependent on Russian energy. 

"We should have invested all over Europe in infrastructure that gives us the ability to change the supply, from one day to the other," he said. "This is the lesson that has been learned... be prepared for a situation like this."

UK to host Ukraine recovery conference

The UK will host a conference next year focused on helping Ukraine recover from the damage caused by the Russian invasion, the Foreign Office said.

This year’s Ukraine Recovery Conference is taking place in Switzerland from Monday.

The meeting brings together representatives from Ukraine and other nations as well as international organizations and civil society groups.

"We have led on support for Ukraine during the war and will continue to lead in supporting the Ukrainian Government’s Reconstruction and Development Plan," Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a statement.

The Foreign Office said Britain had been asked by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to champion the recovery of Kyiv and the surrounding region.

Infographic on Russian military advances into Ukraine
Russia has claimed gains in its military offensive in eastern Ukraine

Recap of Sunday's events

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy confirmed that his forces have withdrawn from Lysychansk, the last holdout city in the eastern Luhansk region. 

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin was discussing with allies what security guarantees can be given to Kyiv when the war is over.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke out against urging Ukraine to negotiate an end to the war. Moscow has accused Western nations of preventing peace negotiations, thus dragging out the conflict.

During talks with Zelenskyy in Kyiv, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese pledged further military support, including armored vehicles and drones.

Turkish customs authorities detained a Russian cargo ship carrying grain that Ukraine says is stolen.

Several people died when Russian troops shelled Slovyansk in the eastern Donetsk region, which the Ukrainian military described as the "biggest" bombardment in recent times.

Click here for all updates from Sunday.

mm, sdi/jsi (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)