The 2023 Ukraine Recovery Conference in London is paving the way for post-war reconstruction in Ukraine, likely to be the most ambitious such effort in modern history. Drawing from lessons in Western Europe after World War II, Eastern Europe after the Cold War, and the Western Balkans after the violent breakup of Yugoslavia, the focus is on establishing security to foster investor confidence, and on strong reforms to counteract the country’s pre-existing economic struggles.
- Ukraine’s post-war recovery, in many ways, is expected to resemble that of Western Europe post-WWII, Eastern Europe post-Cold War, and the Western Balkans post-Yugoslavia breakup. The U.S. and Europe have a fundamental role to play: the U.S. providing seed money and security, while Europe provides major funding and aids in the integration process.
- Security is crucial for Ukraine’s reconstruction, as it reinforces investor and business confidence, prompting long-term commitments. However, the country’s prospects for growth are uncertain, due to issues like corruption, low productivity, and economic challenges. This necessitates a strong reform component in the reconstruction efforts.
- Ukraine’s reconstruction must be organized around specific principles. These include setting priorities by Ukraine, security spearheading by the U.S., and economic reform and recovery leadership by the EU. A single senior coordinator with broad oversight, as done for Eastern Europe post-Cold War, may be beneficial.
- A blend of international aid, private financing, and Ukraine’s own resources will be needed to fund reconstruction. Aid usually provides a relatively small proportion of total funding but can attract additional funding and serve as risk capital when the private sector is reluctant to invest. Private investment is expected to provide the bulk of reconstruction funding.
- Long-term security planning should begin immediately. This could involve a variety of measures such as providing Ukraine with arms, ammunition, and training, threatening to insert Western forces into Ukraine if Russia attacks again, or including Ukraine in NATO. However, it is also important to consider new security models for Ukraine to mitigate the risk of further conflict.