For Ukraine to win, not all weapons are military

Pledges by other democracies to rebuild Ukraine postwar do more than boost morale.  They send a message to autocracies like Russia on why states must be preserved.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal speaks during a July 4-5 conference in Lugano, Switzerland, on postwar construction of Ukraine.

At a big huddle in Switzerland on Tuesday, many of the world’s democracies pledged to help pay for the economic recovery of Ukraine – even before the war with Russia ends. Coming days after Ukraine was invited to apply for European Union membership, the pledges should give its people “the certainty that they are not alone,” said Swiss President Ignazio Cassis.

Yet strengthening Ukraine’s war resolve was not the only reason for the offers to fund reconstruction. Much of Europe is inspired by the sacrifices Ukrainians are making on its behalf.

“They are fighting for the respect of international laws and our values,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen at the Swiss conference. Democracies must ensure Ukraine “wins the peace,” she added, even as it struggles to win back territory.

In addition, prepping for a rebuild now sends a message. “The Kremlin’s goal is the military, political, and economic destruction of Ukraine,” said Ms. von der Leyen, a former German defense minister. “They want to undermine Ukraine’s very existence as a state. We cannot and we will never let that happen.”

Ukraine’s recovery plan, released for the Swiss meeting with a $773 billion price tag, ranges from mending broken bridges to rebuilding thousands of homes destroyed in more than 1,000 cities and towns retaken by Ukrainian forces. Yet it also includes details on rejuvenating Ukraine’s economy to become more digitized, green, and resilient. Or as British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss put it, the recovery will show that Russia’s attempt to destroy Ukraine has “only produced a stronger, more prosperous, and more united nation.”

The pledges help lift the war’s aim beyond mere liberation of territory taken by Russia. It is also an investment in European and world security, Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president’s office, told the 42 donor nations.

Not all wars are fought with weapons. Just as effective can be a collective effort to undercut the reasons for a war. The promises to restore Ukraine will now be added to the country’s growing arsenal.

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