Not only military assistance: how UK will help Ukraine recover

Wednesday, 10 April 2024 — , UK Minister for Trade Policy
Photo by Yevhen Zinchenko, British Embassy in Ukraine

I last visited Ukraine in August 2021, six months before the full-scale war, and was struck by the warm welcome I received, despite the challenging circumstances the country found itself in. I recently made the journey from London to Kyiv again, this time for very different reasons.

I was there to deepen the UK and Ukraine’s already strong defence and industrial relationship, witnessing a new UK-Ukraine Defence Arrangement and lead a delegation of 29 UK businesses eager to meet their Ukrainian counterparts and explore opportunities to do business.

My journey involved a 12-hour train through Ukraine, which gave me an opportunity to see the country and witness the incredible resilience the Ukrainian people have shown in response to years of Russian aggression.

There are signs everywhere that, despite this aggression, the people of Ukraine have a strong, free, and prosperous future ahead of them, thanks to their determination to make that a reality.


But no man is an island, as the saying goes, and no country should be left to go it alone in the face of aggression and adversity. 

The international community is backing Ukraine and I’m proud the UK was among the first to step up to the mark. 

The World Bank estimates the scale of the reconstruction needed will match, if not exceed, that of the post-Second World War effort, when much of the European continent was laid waste. It is expected to cost over $411bn over the next ten years to build a resilient Ukraine. 

The UK is supporting through civilian, humanitarian, military and economic channels and will keep doing so for as long as it takes. 

In January, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a further £2.5 billion in military support, taking our total backing, both military and civilian, to £12 billion to date. The leaders of both countries also signed the UK-Ukraine Agreement on Security Cooperation in January.

For me, support and reconstruction are two sides of the same coin. Yes, it is vital that Ukraine, as a sovereign state, is given the means to fight Russian aggression on its own territory.  But to secure a long-term and prosperous future, people also need jobs, money and stability.

While in Kyiv, the UK and Ukraine also signed a new Framework Arrangement on defence and industrial cooperation. This is designed to enable both countries to work together to tackle security challenges, deliver joint projects, enhance our defence industries, and encourage job creation.

But it's not just about defence.

The UK’s private sector can play an important role in Ukraine’s recovery, which is why, on my recent trip to Kyiv, we took a large group of UK businesses over to meet their Ukrainian counterparts. Having that face-to-face interaction is invaluable in business, and I hope the mission will result in many deals between UK and Ukrainian companies.

As part of the mission, the UK-Ukraine Infrastructure Taskforce, which provides expertise on the rebuild of Ukraine’s infrastructure, met and agreed on new areas of cooperation.

The National Digital Twin Programme also showcased UK creativity and expertise and extended an offer of capacity-building workshops to facilitate smart cooperation in critical infrastructure projects covering the entirety of Ukraine.

Additionally, joint work between UK Export Finance (UKEF) and the Government of Ukraine has led to the opening of the first of six bridges to build critical infrastructure.

The consequences of Russia’s illegal war are devastating. But the determination and resourcefulness I have witnessed in Kyiv are inspiring and I leave feeling optimistic about the country’s future.


Columns in the Expert Opinion section are not editorial articles and solely reflect the author's views

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