Address by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the World Bank ministerial roundtable in support of Ukraine
Dear Mr. President David Malpass!
Dear Mrs. Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva!
Dear ladies and gentlemen, ministers!
Greetings to all present at this historic World Bank session and thank you for the opportunity to address you today.
This Sunday I spoke with Mrs. Kristalina Georgieva and heard very important words from her. Words about our state – about Ukraine. We talked with her in particular about life in our city of Kharkiv. It is the largest city in the east of Ukraine.
Russian troops have been shelling and bombing it for weeks. In those parts of the city where Russian weapons reach, more than a thousand houses have already been destroyed. Russian artillery, Russian missiles, Russian air bombs do not choose who to kill and which buildings to blow up and burn. It is equally dangerous both in the center of Kharkiv and on the outskirts. You can die from Russian shelling everywhere.
But you need to know the people of Kharkiv. You need to know our people… Even during the war, during such shelling, Kharkiv remains a fully functioning city.
Mrs. Kristalina especially noted that in Kharkiv, despite everything, flowers are planted, trees are cultivated, the streets are cleaned now, and the city is generally tidy. That’s what our Kharkiv is like. That’s what our people are like. That’s what our Ukraine is like.
We managed to liberate from the occupiers the cities and communities of three northern regions of Ukraine – Kyiv, Chernihiv and Sumy. We immediately do everything to restore normal life there.
Russian troops have destroyed or damaged tens of thousands of houses in these regions. Almost all social facilities, most of the economically important enterprises of Ukraine have been burned or need to be repaired.
Thousands of people were killed.
We restore electricity, communications, we restore water supply. We restore traffic, set up temporary bridges across rivers instead of destroyed ones. We return social and administrative services. We carry out demining.
Several thousand explosive devices are neutralized daily. These are mines, tripwire mines and shells left over from the Russian military.
Imagine, they mined even ordinary people’s homes. Home appliances that they failed to steal and take away. Cars. Basements. They even mined agricultural fields…
But even in such conditions, our people return home. Ukrainians are already trying to do everything to restore normal life. Because that’s who we are, Ukrainians.
In the east of our state, in Donbas, in the south the situation is even worse. And right now active hostilities are still going on there. Russia is still trying to develop a new brutal offensive there…
I will cite only one figure now so that you can understand the scale of Ukraine’s ordeal, our people’s ordeal.
Due to the bombing and shelling by Russian troops in Ukraine, 1,141 educational institutions were destroyed or damaged. Schools, kindergartens, universities. All over our country!
Not every country in the world has as many educational institutions as destroyed by Russian troops in Ukraine.
And if so many educational institutions were destroyed, you can imagine how much else was destroyed. Hospitals, infrastructure, businesses and ordinary houses.
The Russian invasion completely destroyed normal economic relations. The first loss analysis alone yielded approximately $ 550 billion in losses.
Russia has blocked our ports in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov. This has significantly reduced Ukrainian exports, including agricultural products. Due to the shortage of Ukrainian food on the world market, the beginning of the crisis is already being felt. A recent report by the UN World Food Program stated that rising food prices this year would lead to starvation of about 47 million people in 81 countries.
Without Ukrainian wheat, corn, vegetable oil and other commodities, this will result not only in physical food shortages in many countries in Africa and Asia, but also in political instability and possibly a new migration crisis. People will look for the culprits of this crisis, in particular, taking to the squares in their countries, in their cities. People will look for ways to escape.
Of course, we do our best to export our products. We launched a sowing campaign this year – as much as possible. But no one in the world can be sure that food security can be guaranteed as long as this war continues – Russia’s war on our land.
Stopping the war now and liberating our territory from Russian invaders is the only reliable way to stop the food crisis.
The Russian troops are deliberately destroying all facilities in our country that could provide an economic basis for life. Railway stations, food warehouses, bakery plants, oil terminals, etc…
As of now, given the economic downturn and broken economic ties, we need up to $ 7 billion in financial support each month. Ukraine will need hundreds of billions of dollars to recover from this war. I’m sure each of you has these calculations, I’m sure of it.
We must also honestly say that Russia is accompanying this war against us with aggressive measures on world markets. They specifically create such conditions that there is instability not only in the food market, but also in the fuel market and in the raw materials markets in general.
Russia has provoked rising energy prices in Europe and more broadly in the democratic world. With sufficient export potential, they have constantly held back gas, in particular, to create painful price conditions for European consumers. So that people put pressure on their governments in the middle of the state for the sake of Russia’s political interests.
This and many other similar examples show that Russia can no longer be considered a normal and reliable supplier of energy resources, a normal and reliable trading partner.
Together we are able to implement solutions that will not only stop the aggressive intentions of the Russian Federation, not only support Ukraine in this war, but also inevitably show all the potential aggressors of the world that creating problems for other states, for other nations means creating problems for themselves. Because if we do not do this, millions and millions of people in the world will repeatedly suffer from the aggressive actions of individual states.
So, what steps are needed now?
The first is immediate support for Ukraine, so that the Russian leadership knows that the war will not allow them to realize any of their aggressive goals. I am sure that our Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, who are present at this meeting, will talk about the details of such financial support.
We must do everything to ensure that Ukraine and Ukrainians have everything they need to live despite the war. In Kharkiv, which I mentioned at the beginning of this speech, and in all other cities and communities of Ukraine. Everywhere.
Second, Russia must be immediately excluded from all international financial institutions. The IMF, the World Bank and others are definitely not the place for a state that is trying to ruin the lives of its neighbors.
Third, we need a special tax for the war. Russia, and after it any other aggressor, must pay for violating global stability. Such a tax for the war should be imposed on all, without exception, trade transactions with Russia as a state or with Russian companies. On all export-import transactions, all financial transactions that have not yet been blocked.
Funds from the war tax should be used to help Ukraine rebuild everything that Russia destroyed in the war. Or, if this tax is applied to another aggressor, the funds should be directed to the victim of that war.
The world needs an effective tool to respond to the destructive actions of those who do not want to maintain common security and work for the common good of all in the world. I am convinced that a special tax for the war can become such a tool.
Fourth, every country in the world needs to prepare now for the possible complete severance of any relations with Russia. No one should depend on the political mood of the leadership of this state. If the world is ready to isolate Russia completely, the Russian leadership will have a motive to avoid any war.
And fifth, significant assets of the Russian state and representatives of the Russian elite have already been blocked. However, these are not all their assets that we are aware of. This blocking work must be continued. And not just as an end in itself. Russia’s blocked funds must be used both to rebuild Ukraine after the war and to compensate for the damage that Russia has caused to other nations with its destructive behavior.
If because of the war unleashed by Russia famine starts in certain regions, or if some countries are substantially affected by inflation, blocked Russian assets could be used to pay for aid and compensation.
We must use all our strength to make Russia feel punishment for this war. And feel how great the need to restore peace is – including for Russia itself.
So by helping us, you can help yourself as well. Stabilize the financial situation in our region and in the world in general. Ensure security in key markets, starting with food.
With your financial support and decisions, we will quickly rebuild our state. And this means not only new opportunities for business from different countries, not only new opportunities for economic growth, but also concrete evidence that global financial institutions are able to work in the interests of ordinary people, in the interests of humanity as a whole.
I want one of the next such meetings to take place in Ukraine. In one of our cities – maybe in Kharkiv – with your support.
Thank you very much for your attention!
Glory to Ukraine!