To help end the war, shape Ukraine’s peace

An ear of wheat is seen in a field in Ukraine, a major global producer of wheat.

Even amid the flames of war, Ukraine has issued a new postage stamp, one that honors 13 soldiers who defied the Russian navy on the first day of the invasion. The government has also opened investigations of Russian war crimes to be prosecuted after the war. And it has asked to join the European Union as soon as possible. Along with other forward-looking steps, Ukraine has discovered that not all wars are fought with weapons. Shaping the peace before a war ends can sometimes undercut the reasons for the war.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy justifies this confidence in Ukraine’s future based on his country’s strong defense of its democratic values. “Look,” he told his people March 8, the world is “preparing to support our reconstruction after war. Because everyone saw that for the people who defend themselves so heroically, this ‘after the war’ will surely come.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, for example, supports a “Marshall Plan” for postwar Ukraine. He is meeting with nine northern European countries this week to discuss the idea. Poland has asked the EU to establish a €100 billion fund to rebuild Ukraine, perhaps by using the confiscated assets of Russia.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has pledged €2 billion as a “resilience package” for Ukraine. The bank also promises to support a reconstruction effort that will “rebuild livelihoods and businesses; restore vital infrastructure; support good governance; and enable access to services.” In addition, President Zelenskyy has also opened talks with the International Monetary Fund on ways to rebuild the country.

If Ukrainians know the democratic world supports their economic future, it would strengthen their resolve to resist Russian forces, Ilya Timtchenko, a former editor at the Kyiv Post, writes for the Atlantic Council. “A global fund would be as important as tanks, javelins, and sanctions in the battle to defend Ukraine against Russian aggression,” he stated.

During World War II, the Western allies planned for a new postwar economic order that also helped bolster their war efforts. Now, with Europe experiencing its first full-scale military invasion since that war, the West is again planning for peace, this time in weighing how to rebuild a free Ukraine.

In war, hope is not a strategy, generals often say. Yet based on reports from the battlefield, morale among Russian foot soldiers is very low. Not so for Ukrainian fighters. Their expectancy for postwar Ukraine runs high.

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