Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a video address on Tuesday estimated it will cost more than $1 trillion to rebuild his country following the Russian assault, now over nine months in. If this number sounds absolutely shocking and unrealistic... it is, given this would be five times Ukraine's entire GDP.
"The reconstruction of our country will become the most momentous economic, technological, and humanitarian project of our time. Even now, we engage dozens of our partner countries to rebuild Ukraine," Zelensky said during his nightly video address Tuesday, translated by Newsweek. "The total volume of work amounts to over a trillion dollars."
He slipped this one trillion dollar figure in while saying he hopes his country can show the world its resilience by hosting the World's Fair in 2030.
Further, the Latvia-based English language news outlet Meduza described that the Ukrainian leader floated an unusual plan for meeting his astronomical reconstruction price tag. National governments or even large companies could become permanent sponsors of specific regions, cities, or economic sectors:
According to Zelensky, Ukraine is developing a system that will allow partner countries to become "patrons" of Ukrainian regions, cities, or businesses. "We’re already seeing interest [in the program] from France, Great Britain, The Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Turkey, Poland, Portugal, Czechia, Slovenia, Latvia, Estonia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Austria, Greece, Canada, the U.S., Japan, and Australia. And that’s not an exhaustive list," he said.
This actually isn't the first time that a stunning $1+ trillion figure has been proposed.
The first time Zelensky so publicly floated one trillion seems to have been in September, when he was invited to "ring" the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange on the 6th of that month (via video feed of course).
He said at the time during comments which included an appeal for $400 billion in foreign investment: "The general project of Ukrainian reconstruction will be the largest economic project in Europe of our time. The largest for several generations. Its volume is already estimated at hundreds of billions of dollars."
Zelensky then emphasized, "And with the necessary modernization of the Ukrainian infrastructure, taking into account security needs, it is more than a trillion dollars and in a fairly short term - less than ten years."
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in Ukraine was worth 200.09 billion US dollars in 2021, according to official data from the World Bank...
Meanwhile, at least one well-known Washington-based think tank has gotten behind this, arguing that it would provide "strategic benefits" to the United States. A report in Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) issued days ago and entitled, United States Aid to Ukraine: An Investment Whose Benefits Greatly Exceed its Cost, had this to say...
"In practice, Ukraine cannot continue to fight and to recover without continuing aid from the U.S. and other powers. Moreover, if the war drags on as it well may do, the total costs of both the war and recovery states could easily rise well over $500 billion. A truly long war could put the total cost of the war and recovery to a trillion dollars or more."
It noted, "So far, there has been only limited domestic political resistance in the United States to continuing civil and military aid to Ukraine" - suggesting that US officials should push for more and more foreign aid for Kiev amid the general lack of pushback and apathy.