Winning the peace

Think tank: The Henry Jackson Society

Author(s): Marc Sidwell; Dr Helena Ivanov

May 11, 2023

This report from UK think tank the Henry Jackson Society looks at why Britain and the West must act now to help rebuild Ukraine.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to an unprecedented crisis across the world and caused challenges to the global order not seen since World War II. In its latest report, the World Bank estimated that it would cost $411 billion over the next 10 years to rebuild war torn Ukraine, and that such estimates “should be considered as minimums as needs will continue to rise as long as the war continues.” The report also details some of the economic and human toll of Russia’s war, “including nearly 2 million homes damaged, more than one in five public health institutions damaged, 650 ambulances damaged or stolen.” While Western allies have begun to think about the best ways they can support Ukrainian post-war reconstruction, it is already clear that gathering these funds will be difficult. In this paper, we examine some of the challenges involved in gathering the needed funds, but argue that it is of vital importance that the West and the UK act now to help rebuild Ukraine. As we explain, failing to do so would open up the possibility of other countries stepping in – notably China. We detail some of the risks involved in China becoming the largest investor in post-war reconstruction – and detail the problems other countries have experienced when they decided to rely on China. The aim of this report is not to meddle in Ukrainian decision-making. In the end, the Ukrainian people and its Government have the right to decide whose aid they will take and under what circumstances. Indeed, this report is not speaking to the Ukrainian Government or trying to tell the Ukrainian Government what to do. Instead, this report is building an argument in favour of planning ahead when it comes to Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction, and is aimed at Western-allied governments and non-governmental actors. It is a warning to Western powers that they should not be complacent about the prospect of Chinese involvement or its potential appeal to Ukraine. Thus, in the report we also highlight some of the dangers potentially involved in Chinese investment in the hope that it could motivate Western-allied actors to step forward when it comes to investing in post-war Ukraine. This report comes at a convenient time and just ahead of the Ukraine Recovery Conference to be held in London in June 2023. We hope that this report and its findings can serve as a good foundation for productive conversations. Work should start now so Western powers are ready to make decisive commitments during this conference.