The Ukraine, still reeling from the Russian aggression, is focused on its reconstruction efforts. At a London conference aimed at helping the country, Germany will also be present. Meanwhile, the Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister reports fierce resistance from Russian troops.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj sees the Ukraine Recovery Conference, which begins on Wednesday in London as a new strengthening for his country bruised by the Russian attack. "A rebuilt Ukraine, a transformed Ukraine, a stronger Ukraine is (...) a security guarantee, protection against any form of Russian terror," Selenskyj said in his evening video message released Tuesday. At the meeting, which runs until Thursday, states and major corporations will announce aid for the reconstruction of Ukraine.
"The first meetings have already begun in London," Selenskyj said. There have already been talks about reconstruction aid in Germany, Switzerland, France, and Italy, he said. It is not just about construction projects, but also about protection for Ukraine, the President said. He himself wants to present his philosophy of Ukrainian transformation via video on Wednesday, and by the end of the month, the "complete vision" will then be presented in the country itself.
Baerbock and Schulze attend reconstruction conference for Ukraine in London
Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock (Greens) is expected to attend the two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference. The focus will be on how private companies can be encouraged to invest in the country. Also attending will be US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Development Minister Svenja Schulze (SPD). EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is also expected.
According to the British government, hundreds of international companies have already signaled their intention to participate in Ukraine's reconstruction. To offer companies more security, the G7 countries plan to create a framework for war risk insurance that they would cover. One of the topics on the agenda is investment guarantees, which can reduce the risk for companies from a state level. However, Kiev must also be held accountable for carrying out reforms, such as getting a better handle on corruption in the country.
Blinken urged Kiev on Tuesday, at a meeting with his British counterpart James Cleverly in London, to strengthen democratic institutions. He pledged US and other allies’ support for this effort. Germany will host the Ukraine Recovery Conference next year.
Hanna Maljar: Russian forces put up fierce resistance
In his video message, Selenskyj reiterated that the Ukrainian fighters are actively combating the Russian occupiers. "Now our fighters are very actively destroying the enemy in the south and east and physically cleaning up Ukraine," Selenskyj said. "This will continue in the future."
The Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister, Hanna Maljar, announced in the evening that Russian troops were putting up fierce resistance and were mining areas. She said the offensive was proceeding as planned in the south. Progress was being made with small but convincing steps, she said. The Ukraine had recently made gains and freed several villages. Maljar said that some Ukrainian forces were also on the defensive and the Russians were on the offensive. She emphasized once again that the main offensive was still ahead.
Stoltenberg: NATO supports Ukraine in modernizing military
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg promised further assistance to Ukraine in modernizing its military.
"As part of the summit, the Allies will adopt a several-year aid package that will bring Ukraine closer to NATO standards," Stoltenberg told the "Tagesspiegel" (Wednesday) ahead of the meeting of the heads of state and government of the 31 member states in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, in July. "With our help, the Ukrainian military is to successfully transition from an army based on old Soviet standards to a modern military operating according to NATO standards."
US government overestimates cost: an additional $6.2 billion for Ukraine
Due to miscalculated costs for military aid to Ukraine, the US government now has over $6 billion more available to support Kiev.
"In a significant number of cases, replacement costs were used for services instead of net book values, resulting in an overestimation of the value of equipment taken from US stockpiles and provided to Ukraine," Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said Tuesday.
According to the Defense Department, the money can be used for military aid, and there are no consequences for future aid packages.
UN Secretary-General disappointed with implementation of grain agreement
Meanwhile, Ukraine faces a halt to its grain exports via the Black Sea. UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed "disappointment" with the current state of implementation of the grain agreement between Russia and Ukraine. Among other things, the ships are now being inspected more slowly, resulting in fewer ships reaching Ukrainian ports and less grain reaching recipients, Guterres said according to a spokesman in New York on Tuesday. Food exports allowed under the agreement had fallen by around three-quarters in May compared to last October.
The grain deal between Russia and Ukraine was mediated by the UN and Turkey last summer and ended Moscow's sea blockade of Ukrainian ports. The agreement has been extended several times, but most recently, only for two months each time. The current extension is valid until mid-July.