Zelensky Appeals for Air Defense and Reconstruction Support at Berlin Conference

Zelensky Appeals for Air Defense and Reconstruction Support at Berlin Conference

Felix Yim 12/06/2024
Zelensky Appeals for Air Defense and Reconstruction Support at Berlin Conference

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, alongside German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, made a compelling plea for air defense and reconstruction support at a conference in Berlin on Tuesday.

The conference aimed to garner international backing to protect Ukrainian cities from Russian missile attacks and to encourage global businesses to invest in post-war reconstruction efforts.

As Russian forces continue to make slow advances in Ukraine's east, Kyiv is positioning itself as a future member of the European Union, worthy of substantial reconstruction financing. The conference in Berlin is seen as a crucial step in securing this support, even as Switzerland prepares to host a summit this weekend aimed at finding a path to peace in Ukraine. Notably, the Swiss summit has been shunned by China and dismissed by Russia, which was not invited.

Standing beside Chancellor Scholz, President Zelensky highlighted the devastating impact of Russian attacks on Ukraine's energy infrastructure. He emphasized that Russia had already destroyed enough infrastructure to power the cities of Berlin and Munich combined. Zelensky's goal at the conference was to secure pledges of billions of euros for defense and to forge agreements on building a new, modern energy system.

"Ukraine is suffering from the most destructive form of the Russian view of energy as a weapon," Zelensky stated. He cited World Bank estimates that Ukraine could need $500 billion over the next decade for reconstruction. Chancellor Scholz reinforced this, stating that companies need to see a viable business case for investing in Ukraine. He highlighted the country's potential in sectors such as renewables, IT, and pharmaceuticals.

Germany is stepping up its support by sending more air defense systems to Ukraine. Scholz announced that Germany, in collaboration with Denmark, the Netherlands, and Norway, would deliver another 100 Patriot air defense missiles to bolster Ukraine's defenses against Russian attacks on cities and critical infrastructure. Scholz emphasized, "The best kind of reconstruction is the one that doesn't have to happen at all."

The conference underscored the dire situation in Ukraine, where a Russian aerial bombardment campaign that began in March has severely damaged the country's generating capacity, necessitating scheduled blackouts. Amidst this backdrop, both Zelensky and Scholz are set to attend a Group of Seven (G7) summit in Italy later this week to further diplomatic efforts.

Zelensky expressed cautious optimism about the upcoming conference in Switzerland, which aims to build support for Kyiv's peace proposals. He noted the importance of maintaining international support as the war drags on. "It is important not to hand over the initiative to Russia," Zelensky said. "Their vision is the occupation of our country."

In Berlin, Zelensky also addressed the German parliament. His speech, however, was boycotted by two parties, including the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), whose support surged in recent European elections. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, speaking at the conference, announced agreements worth 1.4 billion euros ($1.5 billion) with banks to attract private investment for Ukraine. She also revealed that the EU would deliver 1.9 billion euros to Ukraine by the end of the month and that Kyiv would benefit from interest income from frozen Russian assets.

"(Russian President Vladimir) Putin must fail, and Ukraine must prevail," von der Leyen declared. "And we must help Ukraine to rise from the ashes and to be the master of its own future. This means, first and foremost, that we must provide Ukraine with the means to defend itself."

The Berlin conference, however, faced a setback with the resignation of a top Ukrainian reconstruction official, who cited "systemic obstacles" that made his job untenable. This highlighted the ongoing challenges in managing reconstruction efforts within Ukraine's government.

US special envoy Penny Pritzker stressed the importance of good governance in reconstruction efforts. "Commitments to rebuilding Ukraine are predicated upon having good stewardship by those who are managing the reconstruction efforts across the Ukrainian government," she said. Pritzker emphasized the urgent need to address issues such as corruption, customs evasion, and grey markets.

The conference in Berlin marked a critical moment in Ukraine's quest for international support. As the country continues to fend off Russian aggression, the backing of global allies and businesses will be pivotal in rebuilding and ensuring a peaceful and prosperous future for Ukraine.

Share this article

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

terms and condition.
  • No comments found

Share this article

Felix Yim

Tech Expert

Felix is the founder of Society of Speed, an automotive journal covering the unique lifestyle of supercar owners. Alongside automotive journalism, Felix recently graduated from university with a finance degree and enjoys helping students and other young founders grow their projects. 

Cookies user prefences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Read more
Tools used to analyze the data to measure the effectiveness of a website and to understand how it works.
Google Analytics