Secretary Antony J. Blinken at the Ukraine Conference Session 1

JUNE 21, 2023

SECRETARY BLINKEN: Thank you. Good morning, everyone. Prime Minister Sunak, Prime Minister Shmyhal, thank you for bringing us together and bringing together such a broad and diverse coalition of governments, businesses, international financial institutions, civil society groups, all dedicated to Ukraine’s recovery.

As President Biden has said since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the United States will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. And that includes being by Ukraine’s side as it recovers from this catastrophic Russian aggression.

It’s easy sometimes to be a little numbed by what is going on day in, day out in Ukraine. We see the images flash by on our TV screens. We talk about the numbers. And sometimes what gets lost is the day-in, day-out human devastation that Russia is inflicting on Ukraine. And I think it’s so important that even as we gather here today to talk in detail about what all of us are doing together with Ukraine to help it recover, we never lose sight of that human dimension, because at the end of the day that’s what it’s all about.

Back in April, just one day in this devastating aggression, in the city of Uman – hundreds of miles from the front lines – another assault of Russian missiles on innocent Ukrainian civilians, on apartment buildings hundreds of miles away. In one of those buildings before dawn, a Russian missile struck. A father, Dmytro, in his apartment raced to his children’s room. He opened the door to the room to try to see how his children – Kyrylo, 17, and Sophia, 11 – were doing. He opened the door to the room. It wasn’t there anymore. His children were gone, two of the six children killed that one day – that one day in April – as a result of this ongoing aggression against Ukraine. Two of thousands killed through the course of this war, two lives interrupted, two stories stopped.

That’s what this is about every day. But as Russia continues to destroy, we are here to help Ukraine rebuild – rebuild lives, rebuild its country, rebuild its future. Recovery is about more than just ensuring people have what they need to survive – food to eat, water to drink, medicine to take, heat in the winter, electricity in all seasons. Recovery is about laying the foundation for Ukraine to thrive as a secure, independent country, fully integrated with Europe, connected to markets around the world; a democracy rooted in the rule of law; a place where all Ukrainians have dignity, human rights, the opportunity to reach their full potential.

Every investment that we make in Ukraine’s recovery is aimed at bringing Ukrainians closer to that reality. And today, I’m announcing that, with the support of the United States Congress, we will provide more than $1.3 billion in additional aid to help Ukraine toward that goal. (Applause.)

We’re going to invest over $520 million to help Ukraine overhaul its energy grid, more than half of which, as you’ve heard, has been destroyed by Russia – and in so doing make it cleaner, make it more resilient, make it more integrated with Europe. And we’ll support Ukraine’s energy market reforms to combat monopolies and to spur more private investment, which will enable Ukraine one day to become a major energy exporter.

This support will complement the work that’s already being done by the G7+ Coordination Group which we launched last October and have co-led ever since, first with Germany, now with Japan. That group has grown to include 18 countries and several multilateral institutions. Together we’ve allocated billions of dollars to help repair and rebuild Ukraine’s energy sector. We’ve sent more than 5 million power generators to Ukraine – transformers, cables, pipes, circuit breakers, other pieces of energy equipment.

The United States will also provide $657 million to help modernize Ukraine’s border crossings, its rail lines, its ports, other critical infrastructure that connect the country with Europe, allowing it to exchange more goods by more pathways more and more efficiently. We’ll direct an additional $100 million toward digitizing Ukraine’s customs and other systems to boost speed and to cut corruption. And we’ll commit $35 million to help Ukrainian businesses and entrepreneurs through financing and insurance that reduces risks for investors in Ukraine.

This new support that I’m announcing today comes on top of more than $20 billion that the United States has provided in economic and development assistance to Ukraine’s workers, its businesses, its public services to help them endure the 16 months of punishing conflict with unwavering bipartisan support from our Congress. Across this support, we’re striving to build a Ukraine that’s inclusive, that’s accessible, so that people with disabilities can reach their full potential, which is in the interests of all Ukrainians.

My announcement today also comes on top of the more than $2.1 billion in humanitarian assistance that we’ve provided to Ukraine and to the region to respond to Russia’s war of aggression, including lifesaving aid for those affected by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. Within hours of its breach, we mobilized support for evacuations; for emergency deliveries of food, of safe drinking water, of fuel, of medical aid. In the weeks since, we’ve continued to work with Ukraine in assisting the thousands of people who’ve been displaced, the hundreds of thousands whose water supply has been contaminated. And these are just the immediate consequences of the catastrophe that will probably wreak environmental and economic devastation for many months and indeed many years to come.

Meanwhile, the United Nations has publicly called out Moscow for blocking the UN from delivering aid to civilians in the flooded areas that Russia illegally occupies, adding to Russia’s long track record of denying humanitarian access, which is a requirement under international humanitarian law.

In addition to our economic development and humanitarian assistance, the United States will continue to invest in Ukraine’s long-term efforts to strengthen good governance, transparency, accountability. We’ll bolster its justice sector and anti-corruption institutions, strengthen its civil society and its free press. These institutions and organizations empower Ukrainians to hold their government accountable, to check the power of vested interests, and they’re crucial to ensuring that the unprecedented resources that all of us are providing are managed responsibly.

The Ukrainian Government has made meaningful strides in bolstering these institutions, even as it fights for survival, and Kyiv has taken tangible and difficult steps to align its standards and practices with the European Union, particularly since the EU granted Ukraine candidate status a year ago. Earlier this month, Ukraine passed reforms to align its energy market regulations with the European Union, strengthening measures to combat market manipulation and insider trading. And we look forward to the Rada taking up anti-monopoly legislation very soon.

Adopting these and other critical reforms to increase Ukraine’s transparency, competitiveness – to bolster the rule of law – will help attract more private investment. And that is essential, and you heard it from my colleagues. Governments are doing a lot. International financial institutions are doing a lot. Both of us have a hugely important role to play in Ukraine’s recovery. But it is not enough. Only the private sector can mobilize the level of investment necessary to meet the country’s massive needs. The diverse participation of the private sector here today in this conference shows the growth opportunity that global firms and investors see in the future of Ukraine, in the future of its people.

But make no mistake: All of these reforms and recovery efforts depend on Ukraine having the capacity to deter and defend against future attacks by Russia. That’s why even as we invest in Ukraine’s immediate and long-term recovery, we also have to build a Ukrainian military that is strong enough to protect Ukraine’s sovereignty, its territorial integrity, and its independence – not just to defend Ukraine’s land, but to defend all that Ukrainians are building and will build on that land.

It’s also why the United States is committed to working to build support for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine, the core elements of which I outlined a couple of weeks ago in Helsinki. Those include a peace that upholds the United Nations Charter and its fundamental principles – sovereignty, territorial integrity, independence – that addresses both accountability and reconciliation, that ensures Ukraine’s full participation and assent, and that supports Ukraine’s reconstruction and recovery.

Even as we rally around Ukraine’s recovery, we must not lose sight of why that is necessary in the first place. Indeed, even as we come together here in London, committed to supporting Ukraine’s buildup, Russia continues to try to burn it down. So let’s be clear: Russia is causing Ukraine’s destruction, and Russia will eventually bear the cost of Ukraine’s reconstruction. (Applause.)

Until that time, we will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine as they make the greatest sacrifices to defend, to rebuild, to reimagine their country. And in doing so, we will reaffirm the principle at the heart of the international order, that people in every nation can write their own future free from aggression, free from coercion, free from intimidation. That is a recovery well worth our robust and enduring support. Thank you very much. (Applause.)