Blueprints for Renewal: Reconstructing Ukraine

Friday, April 19, 2024
Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters

President, European Investment Bank Group

Deputy Prime Minister for Restoration and Minister for Communities, Territories, and Infrastructure Development, Ukraine (speaking virtually)

President, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development


Adjunct Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations; General Partner and Executive Vice President, America’s Frontier Fund; @heidirediker

Panelists discuss global financial efforts to support the reconstruction of Ukraine and help rebuild the country’s infrastructure and economy following Russia’s military aggression.

This meeting is held in collaboration with the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

CREBO-REDIKER: So do we have the deputy prime minister? We do. Hi. Good to see you. So welcome. This is our—this is a delightful opportunity today at the Council on Foreign Relations, and we’re cohosting with the Peterson Institute, to look at the Blueprint for the Renewal and Reconstruction of Ukraine. And this is a CFR hybrid meeting. So we have you here in in Washington, D.C. And we also have a fairly large group online joining us from around the country. And we have the deputy prime minister. Clearly, it’s late in Kyiv, and we appreciate your time.  

So let me just do a quick interaction. First, it’s a shorter introduction because we were waiting for Nadia Calviño to come here right now. (Laughs.) And so we’ll get her up on stage as soon as she arrives. This is a thirty minute conversation that I will have with the deputy prime minister and with Odile Renaud-Basso, who is the president of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov is the deputy prime minister responsible for reconstruction. And he has a very big job. He has a very great reputation. And I would—I’m going to start off speaking with the with the deputy prime minister, with one quick—one quick note. This is an on the record Council on Foreign Relations meeting, and this is webcast. So it will be online for future—for future use. And just remember that in the second thirty minutes when you are asking your very good questions.  

I’m also wondering if Vlad Rashkovan is in the audience. OK. I will recognize him when he gets here as well. But for those who don’t know that much about the EBRD, it is—it was it was founded in 1991 to support transition after the fall of the Soviet Union, and it’s played a really interesting role in actually supporting Ukraine from day one. The U.S. is a shareholder. Countries like Japan and Australia are shareholders. Ukraine is a shareholder. Russia is a shareholder, which makes the board meetings, I imagine, very interesting these days. EIB, I’m hoping that when we have Nadia here she can speak to the work that the European Investment Bank is doing with regard to support for Ukraine, because they are an institution not many people in the United States know about. The U.S. is not a member of EBRD, but it is—of EIB. But it is—EIB is one of the largest multilateral lending institutions in the world. So that’s just by background.  

If I may, Deputy Prime Minister, thank you, again, for joining us. In the spring meetings this week there has been nothing but praise for Ukraine, and how resilient your economy has been. You’ve had very high praise personally from people who have interacted with you on anything having to do with reconstruction. So you’re very welcome. But I would ask, first, if you could reflect a bit on what the state of the Ukrainian economy is right now. We get a lot of news having to do with critical infrastructure incidents, a lot—I mean, you’re obviously under a tremendous amount of pressure to actually keep the economy running while you’re in the throes of a very hot war after Russia’s invasion. And when we think about the kind of support that Ukraine would need right now, I think a lot of people would say budget support for sure. But why reconstruction now? And what could you say to—like, to get an investor interested in coming to invest private capital in Ukraine? 

KUBRAKOV: Thank you so much for this opportunity for this—just to explain our position. I’m sure that we have and we will continue to repair and restore Ukraine during the war because, first of all, our people, they cannot wait. And, indeed, again, we will not allow Russians to succeed in their efforts to destroy our economy and drive our people away from Ukraine. Last year, in 2023, we spent about 7.2 billion U.S. dollars on reconstruction. Among this, some 3.1 was financed from the state budget of Ukraine. Different sources including arrested money of Sberbank Russia in Ukraine subsidiary; and other, more than 4 billion (dollars), it was financed by partners through different mechanisms. But mostly with support of EBRD, European Investment Bank, World Bank. Different programs—energy, housing.  

Second reason why we should—to start reconstruction immediately, because in some cases we have to respond immediately. For example, after Kakhovka Dam destruction, on the third day after this catastrophe we started construction of new water pipelines, in order to save 1.5 million people in southern part of—in Dnieper region, to provide drinking water. And to save 10 percent of GDP of Ukraine, because in this region 10 percent of GDP concentrated before the war, before the—(inaudible)—and right now as well. In parallel, we were able to establish our Ukraine corridor in Black Sea. And we have pretty good (routes secure ?). Just a couple days ago, we passed 40 million tons of export, 27 million tons of agricultural products. We are continuing to develop—(inaudible). We are continuing to develop new border crossing checkpoints, while our border with Poland unpredictable still, unfortunately.  

And, again, I think for sure defense is critical question. We need to protect our grid. We need to prepare for the next heating season. But if I can summarize here that, again, key figures are showing that we are on the right track, because each month our economy is growing and tax revenues growing, as well as the budget. Because first of all, we are able right now to export our products from our two key industries. First of all, it’s agricultural and steel industry as well. So each month we’re receiving additional tax revenue. 

CREBO-REDIKER: So, I know it’s late so I want to—I want to try and make sure that I have full advantage of your—of your time. You are the central coordinator for all of the multilateral and bilateral aid that’s coming in for reconstruction. And the coordination on the ground is actually something that, you know, we worry on our side that all of our institutions can line up and be coordinated. But it’s probably—it’s probably much harder if you’re on the ground trying to work through all the conditions that different institutions place on the funds that they’re providing. Can you just talk a little bit about how that process has gone so far? I mean, because it’s been—it’s been several years in the making, and you’re running it. So how is it going? 

KUBRAKOV: Again, thank you so much for this question. I think, yes, we are going to have a great job. And first of all, we are grateful to our partners from multi donor coordination platform. This platform was a bit expanded at the end of previous year, and new members, new countries joined to this format. Second, but again, like, second, G-7 Ukraine Energy Coordination Group, again, I think for the most urgent needs in the energy sector I think this format, this mechanism, also, like, proves the sufficiency. In the second season of Russian attacks, of, like, winter season, we are working. Like, when it’s required, sometimes we have several calls during the weekend. And Geoffrey Pyatt and his team are doing a great job here. 

On the level of different institutions, well, if for a second, I can just provide several examples. For example, with World Bank we established a housing project. It’s called HOPE. Several countries under this umbrella provide guarantees, provide supports. And we are here together with World Bank providing financing for our people, in order to provide some possibility to repair their own apartment, houses, to provide them compensation. This is very transparent and actually very interesting mechanism based completely on digital tools—application Diia, which each citizen in Ukraine has. 

A second example of cooperation, for example, I think it’s a great example of partnership between the World Bank and EBRD. We will—I mean, this project will help us to buy fifty electric locomotives. World Bank will use grant from the United States. If you provide loans and jointly, again, we will—we will receive one procurement process, we will use economy of scale, and it will be much more efficient project for Ukraine, for Ukrainian government,  

And, finally, European Investment Bank, again, created an umbrella loan, which is different regions is using for, like, rebuilding of social objects—schools, hospitals. Again, government provides—EU provide a guarantee to European Investment Bank, government took all responsibilities on our side, and local subgovernments, they’re just receiving financing and, like, they’re in charge of implementation of the projects. Again, different levels, different approaches, but I think—it’s in any format, we are trying to cooperate. Actually, on the level of IFIs, we started coordination, I would say, from the middle of ’22 year. And that was, I think, exactly right decision. Thank you. 

CREBO-REDIKER: So, welcome to Nadia Calviño, who is the very recent—congratulations—new head of—new president of the European Investment Bank. Thank you for joining us today.  

On the—on the back of that question, I mean, both of—both of these institutions provide a great deal of support. But you are—I think, in terms of scale, you are a massive participant, and also have a lot of tools at your disposal. What have you found to be most useful? Tell us a little bit about your previous work in Ukraine. And perhaps a little bit about what the different instruments—the financial instruments are—that that the EIB is able to use and bring to bear in Ukraine today. 

CALVIÑO: So well thank you very much for the invitation. And I think it is, indeed, very appropriate that the EBRD and the EIB are sitting together, which symbolizes very much the way we want to go hand in hand supporting Ukraine now in the very difficult circumstances, as we hope to do very soon, reconstructing the country after the war. And we have been active in in Ukraine in the past. And since the war broke, we started trying to implement as fast as possible available funding.  

We have invested more than 2 billion euros in the country. And we have, until the appropriate guarantees had been approved that the vice president—I mean, deputy prime minister was referring to, we had—we created a bridge financing facility, the EU for Ukraine Facility, which has allowed us to start working. Now that we got Ukraine facility finally approved by European leaders, we will be able to scale up our activities going forward. Also, not only through financing but also technical assistance, something that I think is very appreciated on the Ukrainian side and very necessary to build capacities on the ground.  

What we have been financing, and yesterday I signed memoranda of understanding with Prime Minister Shmyhal, precisely to accelerate the deployment of investments on the ground. We have been focusing on three types of investments. Large infrastructure investments of a national dimension, that is the energy infrastructures, transport infrastructures, borders, et cetera. Secondly, municipalities responsibilities, and so local investments. For example, repair of housing. For example, utilities, schools, hospitals, et cetera. And then thirdly, support to the private sector, where we have provided horizontal instruments to support Ukrainian SMEs through the financial sector.  

And I think that going forward, yesterday’s signature of the MOU is a very important milestone. I hope you agree with that, Minister Kubrakov, because it will allow us to identify the priorities, agree them with the Ukrainian government, and also agree to streamline our processes in a manner that allows us to accelerate deployment on the ground. And I hope that very soon we will be signing the first concrete agreements and the first concrete projects, you know, in the coming weeks and months, so that we can really speed it up. And for that, I think cooperation—let me close with this—cooperation with our fellow brothers and sisters in other multilateral development banks and other financial institutions is of the essence, starting with mutual reliance.  

Odile knows I am a mono-thematic person with these, because I really think that, first, recipients—and I think this was your question to Minister Kubrakov, who is so diplomatic that he didn’t want to comment on this—(laughter)—but we really have to rely on each other’s processes and requirements and standards. We share almost all shareholders, in one way or another. And we have to get—to find these synergies and rely on each other’s processes and have a good coordination of what we do on the ground. I think the coordination is there. And the meeting we had yesterday with Prime Ministers Shmyhal confirmed that we’re well-coordinated in each of the institution, acting and investing where we have an advantage. And so there’s no duplication, and there’s a good coordination. But now we need to take it one step forward, and accelerate implementation on the ground. 

CREBO-REDIKER: So, Odile, thank you very much. You—first of all, welcome back to the Council. We’re always delighted to have you here. I would ask the same question of you. What is the history of the EBRD in Ukraine? I know you have—you have a lot of instruments in your—at your disposal. And you’ve been very, very focused on private sector engagement, and in catalyzing private funding, sort of, in the model of the IFC. Tell me a little bit about what you are able to bring that is actually complimentary. I know we had the example of the project that you were all working on together, but just in particular what is EBRD’s strength at this table? 

RENAUD-BASSO: So, first of all, our history with Ukraine, it’s very long, because, in a way, we’ve been created to support countries like Ukraine. And so for the EBRD, it’s a very sort of existential moment. And in a way, when the war started you could feel in the institution, we have a lot of Ukrainian staff, the history of the bank was very much related to the—to the development of Ukraine, and a country like Ukraine. And so it was—so, for us, I mean, Ukraine is a very important country of operation always in our—in our portfolio, and in the way we’ve been involved in Ukraine. Our investment, I would say, stepped up a lot after—in the context of the revolution of dignity after 2014. We were very involved in financing the private sector, but also supporting the reform agenda, and deepening our involvement there.  

So when the war started, I would say, it was—it was a challenging moment, because for a bank it’s always very—you know, starting to invest in a war area is always a bit of a challenge. But we really felt that we had to do something, and we had to continue, and even to increase our support. So we started—before the war, we were doing, like, 1 billion of investment per year. And since the beginning of the war, we’ve invested 4.1 billion. So we doubled each year— 

CREBO-REDIKER: Since the beginning? 

RENAUD-BASSO: Since the beginning of the war. So 2 billion a year, basically, of financing for the countries—for the country. And we’ve done it with—like, Nadia was talking about guarantees. We asked the support for shareholders to say, OK, we are ready to take some risk on our balance sheet, and it’s a big commitment. But we need to have at least some risk sharing. And I want to thank the U.S. They were the first one—the first country giving us 500 million of grants in order to help us to invest in Ukraine and to step up our activity there. And then other countries joined in different form—guarantees, grants, and so forth. And that really helped us a lot to be—I mean, that that allowed us to have this this level of investment.  

And then we started discussing with shareholders how to ensure—I mean, have better leverage, better use of public resources, and have more visibility. Because, I guarantee, it was a bit of—you know, with each country, you need to discuss, project by project, how you’re going to finance it, and so forth. And that’s where we got the support and agreement from shareholders to get the capital increase, which is quite exceptional, quite difficult discussion for MDBs, in general, to allow us to continue to support Ukraine in the wartime and in reconstruction. So now we can take the risk on our balance sheet. We still use some guarantees or some grand financing for very risky project. But we have the visibility and the capacity overall. And, I mean, depending on the scenario, the situation, we can invest in the next five years between 7.5 to 15 billion overall in Ukraine.  

And in terms of instruments, we’ve—and what we’ve been doing, we’ve been trying to address very much to the needs. So basically, normally, in normal times, we are very focused on the private sector and so forth. But in the current circumstances with Ukraine, we were very much answering to the needs. And I remember a visit I made in Ukraine in October 2022. And it was at a moment when the Russians started to bomb the infrastructure. And we had a meeting with Minister Kubrakov, who said, OK, now—I mean, this is an emergency. We really need to have support to be able to repair the network and to keep the electricity flowing. And I think in a record time of three weeks, maybe one month, we managed to have a loan approved by our board, and so forth, and started dispersing for Ukraine. You’re aware at that point of time, I mean, in order to be able to help the company dealing with the emergency situation.  

So we’ve, as the EIB, done a lot on infrastructure. So electricity network, helping—now some things we’ve—it’s very exceptional for us—but, for example, helping Naftogaz to buy gas to have storage capacity, sufficient gas to sustain the winter in 2022 and 2023. This is something normally we don’t do, but we really thought it was the appropriate tool. So a lot of flexibility in the answer to support this key infrastructure, keeping electricity, gas, the train company, road, and hydropower plants. But also, a lot on the private sector. And for that, we developed a new product, which is risk sharing facilities.  

So because the banks are very liquid, they don’t need that credit line. But they need to have support to take risk. And we have a risk-sharing facility where we take 50 percent of the risk when the bank extend the loan to an SME, and we supported, I think, 1 billion of financing for SMEs with this kind of instrument. We also do direct lending to big companies and to larger companies in the agribusiness, logistics, and so forth, and some equity funding. And it’s quite remarkable. And I think that—I see that as a very strong signal of—I mean, sign of the resilience of the Ukrainian economy. You have equity, private equity funds, being able to raise some equity financing. We were part of the (original ?) capital fundraising. And this is, I think, a very good—I mean, very strong signal of the resilience.  

So we will continue to adjust to the circumstances. But on the complementary, I think that it’s very clear that in Ukraine no single institution can take the full risk, can be alone, can deal with the situation. So having different balance sheets, different institution working together, it’s the best thing we can provide to the country. And we are working hard, I think, to improve. I mean, mutual reliance, I also fully agree we have this amortization of procurement. And having the joint—I think, another element which is for me very important is joint approach on reform.  

And I think, for example, the delivery of the reform of SOE—which state-owned enterprise—which has been approved by Rada a few months ago—a few weeks ago, is a very strong outcome. And it’s the outcome of work we’ve been doing with IFC, with the authorities, with the OECD, and so forth. So we all joined forces to have this this reform agenda. And this is something which we need to call—I mean, MDBs and bilateral donors need also to join forces in order to have the same reform agenda. And various metrics are related to the EU accession. 

CREBO-REDIKER: That was where I was going to go next. Is that, you know, you have the IMF program in place, you have all of the multilateral development banks. But you also have this driver of the EU accession process. And you’ve all—you both had been part of that before. Deputy Prime Minister, how is it looking on your side in terms of the ability to implement the steps that are going to be necessary so far on that path to EU accession? I know that that’s not your job, but this is sort of—it does fall in terms of, you know, meeting the conditionality requirements of multiple different institutions calling on your attention. So how does it look, from your perspective? 

KUBRAKOV: Thank you very much for this question. I think during the last two years, during the war, on our side Ukraine has proved that we are able to fulfill all requirements from different institutions. In some cases, it was very—I wouldn’t say it was easy. It was very tough, very complicated. And we passed, like, a lot of—a lot of bills in rather—in a very tough schedule, and to fulfill all the requirements on our path to EU accession, first.  

Second, what is also important to say that it’s critical to coordinate, because, you’re absolutely right, there are a lot of requirements. In some cases, they are quite similar. For example, there are requirements of IMF side, there are requirements for full EU. So what—I mean, the good news is this work will be started. And I think we are also on a good track here. So we have matrix of reforms. We have priorities. And we jointly discuss with partners. So I think—(inaudible). So—and I see, like, commitment of the president. I see commitment of the government. And I don’t expect any problems. Everybody understand that we are in a war right now, and we need to—we need to go faster with all this list of reforms. 

CALVIÑO: Maybe if I can chip in on this one, because I mentioned before the importance of technical assistance. And that is of the essence when we’re talking about enlargement and accession to the European Union. So one of the agreements that we are signing, and we signed yesterday in the MOU, was how we’re going to mobilize 100 million euros that have been allocated precisely for technical assistance. And the fact that from now on Ukraine—when I say now, I don’t know if it’s today or we still need a little process to be done. I can verify that, so as not to generate any expectations, you know, at the door. But Ukraine will have access to JASPERS, which is the name of the technical assistance program which is the sort of leading technical assistance program for enlargement processes.  

So that can allow Ukraine to benefit from the very intense experience that we’ve had with previous accession processes. And that was also one of the important decisions we took yesterday. And the other thing I would like to add when talking about instruments, we have direct loans, we have risk sharing instruments so to support SMEs. And one new instrument we’re working on is a guarantee scheme for—to be the co-grantor or the reinsurer of national insurance companies supporting exports to Ukraine. You know, there are a number of export support and insuring—public insuring companies in a number of member states.  

So we are working on an instrument so that we can reinsure those companies, and so strengthen them so that we can also ensure that there is a trade flow, you know, going to the Ukraine. The minister when I—you know, he was talking about the exports from Ukraine. Just as important are the imports into the country so that the works and the reconstruction can be done. And from this point of view, I think that that new instrument will also add a new—a new—you know, open the scope to new operations within our shared portfolios.  

CREBO-REDIKER: So I have—I have a long list of questions, but I noticed that we’re at the time where we want to open it up. I know there are quite a few people that I know in here who are deep Ukraine experts and are deeply familiar also with these—with these two institutions. So please let me know if you—if you have a question, raise your hand. Jacob, and please introduce yourself. 

Q: Jacob Kirkegaard from the Peterson Institute.  

I mean, you touched upon the EU accession. And there’s one aspect that I wanted to highlight, which goes into the energy sector. Where obviously it’s not only a matter of reconstructing it to keep the—literally the lights on and the heat on in the coming days and months, but it’s also that Ukraine is planning to join what will be, at that time surely still, the world’s most aggressive carbon pricing area, namely the EU. The Ukrainian government has also indicated that it wants to continue to pursue the modernization of its nuclear power plants, very capital intensive. And this is overall a process that is going to be extremely capital intensive.  

So my question to the president but also the deputy minister is, where is the money going to come from to make sure that an energy—I mean, you’re going to have to build back not just a lot better, but a lot greener as well. And that will be more expensive. So do you have the balance sheet to do that? Or are we de facto in the situation that as long as EU leaders do not allow the seizure of also Russian assets in Europe, it condemns Ukraine to a delayed energy transition, and therefore ultimately a delayed accession to the EU? 

CREBO-REDIKER: And just a reminder that the Ukraine has—Zaporizhzhia, I believe, is still the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. 

CALVIÑO: The largest? 

CREBO-REDIKER: Nuclear power plant. 

CALVIÑO: Do you want to kickstart, Deputy Prime Minister? Should we start with you? 

CREBO-REDIKER: Would you—would you like—Deputy Prime Minister, please. 

KUBRAKOV: Thank you. Yeah. I’ll try to, very shortly. 

First of all, yes, we exactly understand our challenges. We understand that, first of all, yes, we need to build back better. Just, first of all, we’ve lost several gigawatts, and we need just to receive them back. But we need to just to receive the—(inaudible)—agreement. First of all, it’s important to say that before largescale invasion, we had quite an active renewable sector, under which, actually, several IFIs participated. And we—I think, like, our growth rates were just really fast, and the investors all over the world from different countries, backed by loans from IFIs, they constructed new stations, new green stations, in a very fast way.  

Second, I think most part of this project—these restoration projects in energy sector, they’re absolutely bankable because price on electricity right now in Ukraine is—like, I would compare it with different EU countries, they are, like, right in the middle. So I think it means for me, yes, we understand that still there is worries. And we discussed just with colleagues that just during the war will need to apply some mechanism how to avoid, how to just mitigate those risks, provide insurance. But all those project are absolutely bankable, from my point of view. Thank you. 

RENAUD BASSO: And maybe just—I think our capacity to finance important project will be there. So I think that when you see the commitment—I mean, and it’s sometimes difficult political decision. I was mentioning capital increase. I mean, it’s not easy to get. But the commitment from the European government, I think, is there. And the private sector—in the context of postwar—the private sector interest will be there. Because we see already, when you talk to foreign investors and so forth. I mean, the war, of course, is not easy—it doesn’t make it easy for investors—new investors to come in, in the country. But when with—I mean, postwar, the reconstruction—full-fledged reconstruction, and so forth, there will be keen interest, I think. 

CALVIÑO: I think that, if I may add, you know, your question had, like, five or six questions embedded, yeah? (Laughter.) Yeah, I caught five or six, maybe more. (Laughs.) So I wouldn’t rush to conclusions on these very complex area. I would say two things. One is, as Odile said, the message that has come from European leaders is, whatever it takes for as long as it takes. And there’s a very strong commitment to support the country and make these accession processes a success. So that’s. 

Secondly, what I see is a very strong commitment to the green transition on the side of the leadership in Ukraine. Prime Minister Shmyhal repeated it, you know, every time there is a discussion. So I have no doubt that there will be a strong commitment to this green transition, not only for reasons of environment also for reasons of security. Because at the end of the day, the green transition is a matter of strategic autonomy and security for all of us who are really—I convinced, you know, that the country will very, very much want that. 

Thirdly, one of the investments—and some of the investments that we’re making are aimed at precisely connecting the Ukraine to the EU in terms of infrastructures. And that is already, you know, paving the way for this kind of integration into the energy sector and others. So, all in all, right now, the focus is very much in short-term measures to ensure the resilience—economic resilience, physical resilience, social resilience—of the country, supporting Ukraine during the war. But I think all investments are already quite oriented towards also supporting the reconstruction once the war is over. 

And like Odile said, I think the private sector is extremely interested, only insofar as somebody else takes the—takes the risk. (Laughs.) So for now, it is quite clear the public sector needs to take a much larger share of the risk, because we’re talking about a war. And actually, the European Investment Bank couldn’t do it if we didn’t have the public guarantees. I mean, Odile was referring to the capital increase. In the case of the EIB, we operate under the mandates and guarantees coming from the European budget. And that’s what allows us to take risks that nobody else would. But once the situation changes, and I hope soon, then the balance will certainly change. 

CREBO-REDIKER: So I don’t see hands up right now, but I actually—there’s one question on the back of the sort of the immediacy of having private capital come into Ukraine now, versus waiting until after. And that is in the defense industry. And I think, you know, we’ve touched on agriculture, on metallurgy, steel. There are—you know, there are a number of different industries that Ukraine is known for. It’s also an incredible technology innovator. And we’ve seen in warfare the technology really change everything. I mean, the whole nature of air battle is being defined on the battlegrounds in Ukraine.  

So for a defense contractor or defense manufacturer looking at the innovation and the ability to invest now, where you have, you know, a huge proliferation of—a friend of mine said that sort of artisanal drone companies that are springing up everywhere. And they are—they are innovating every couple of days, every couple of weeks, as per need. That is the future of warfare. What would you say to European countries that are looking at it? So I think EIB is actually in conversations with whether you can expand your dual use mandate to help Europe actually build up its own defense capability and actually help Ukraine in the process.  

CALVIÑO: Well, we have been operating in the area of security and defense in the last—for the last eight years. And we have a dedicated envelope, which was foreseeing investments up to 8 billion euros. Only 2 billion euros have been used so far, invested so far. So there is this earmarked 6 billion euros for the strategic European Security Initiative, as it is known. And what we have been doing for the past two months is engaging very actively with industry, also with the financial sector, to calibrate very well our activities and our—the way we update and adapt our lending policy, in a manner that ensures us to preserve our AAA, and so the advantage—the financial advantage that having a public bank, such as the EIB, brings to all our clients.  

So last week, last Friday, I presented an action plan to finance ministers. They welcomed the action plan. It has been quite welcomed. Financial markets have reacted as we had expected. We had an issuance this week. We issued 5 billion euros in five-year bonds. The issuance was extremely oversubscribed. We had 21 billion euros in demand. And the closing interest rate was ten basis points over the U.S. Treasury. So I would say financial markets are reacting, as I said, as expected with our well-calibrated package. And one of the—one of the changes and adaptations of these package would include a review of the dual use definition, so that we would remove an existing constraint for some technology or goods or infrastructures to be considered to be dual use. There was a constraint or a requirement that more than 50 percent of future revenues would have—would need to come from civil use. And this requirement will be removed.  

Then second change is to enable SMEs and startups, which operate in the area of security and defense, they will have access to our startups and SME support programs. A one stop shop and a single window, as well as a fast-track process will be established as of May, so that we can also accelerate the deployment of these investments. And then we will deepen our partnerships with other key stakeholders in these—in this area. So, I mean, in a very short period of time, two months, we have come up with an action plan which is going to allow the EIB to play its part in reinforcing Europe’s security and defense industry, which I think there’s unanimous agreement we—it is—it is something that Europe needs to do. 

CREBO-REDIKER: I’m sure EBRD would have a much more challenging time with that. (Laughs.) 

RENAUD-BASSO: Yeah, of course. 

CREBO-REDIKER: You have Russia on your board. 

RENAUD-BASSO: The development bank, with the membership like Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan, is much more difficult. So. 

CREBO-REDIKER: Right. (Laughs.) There’s a question right here, please. 

Q: Hi. Jan Lodal from the Atlantic Council.  

I’d like to ask you something that’s a little bit closer to what’s going on in the war. So, for example, just this is one example. There are many others. But what happened to Mariupol, what happened to the shipping, what happened to grain exports, and so forth. Is there anything that—your institutions could do to speed up reconstruction? Right now, the Ukrainians have done an amazing thing in the Black Sea. They’ve actually made some tremendous advances there, even though people thought it was impossible. Russians have backed off. They have to stay a little bit backed off. They’re still risk. There’s a lot of problems there. But is there a way to focus on some of these situations that have been caused by the war itself, to speed up and return some things that were really very, very positive in Ukraine’s economic life to their previous status? 

CREBO-REDIKER: Deputy Prime Minister. 

KUBRAKOV: I think, first of all, the good news is that almost all international companies which were represented right now in Ukraine—they’re, like, in exports, logistics, in seaports, in production—all of those companies are still operating in Ukraine. Some of them, they continue to invest. And their headquarters they support and IFIs and—like, they can support such companies with different mechanisms. Like, for example, if some of the companies is planning—I wouldn’t name exact names—but if one U.S. company is planning to construct new terminal in Odessa seaport, they required financing. And definitely they will need, like, more risk insurance or some mechanisms how to mitigate such risks. 

In parallel, for example, jointly with EBRD and the IFC we are working on concession of one of the largest seaport in Odessa, Chornomorsk. And we will announce tender very soon, concession tender. In the middle of this year, we are working on this—we started this work before the—(inaudible)—session. And what we see, that there is interest of all largest international companies in this sector. And they’re planning to participate. So any such projects, all these projects, and, again, during the war more than twenty new terminals were constructed on Dnieper River. It’s both, like, Ukrainian business—national business. It’s happening and it’s continuing. And right now, just during the first three months of this year, we have 5.6 million tons of different goods served on Dnieper—only on Dnieper. So I think jointly we are doing this. The question always is just time and how to split up, especially during the war, all these processes. But again, they are jointly working on this. Thank you. 

RENAUD-BASSO: One of our priority in the last few years has been to rebuild Euro-connectivity with—and to provide and to facilitate export and flows of—I mean, trade flows with the neighbor and towards Europe. So this was a plan, you called it solidarity lanes. But this is—I mean, and part of the project we’ve done in Ukraine was to facilitate connectivity with the neighboring countries by train, by rail, by ports, develop port capacity. And we also looked at that from the other countries, Romania, Moldova, and so forth. So there were a lot of investment we are doing in these countries in order to facilitate trade—I mean, export and trade with Ukraine. So that’s one of the dimension of the work beyond Ukraine, but with support of Ukraine to facilitate this kind of investment. And as a way to support the economy. 

CALVIÑO: I would—let me add two different elements to these interventions. From the—from our procedural point of view, what we are doing—and this is what—one of the elements that we agreed upon yesterday with Prime Minister Shmyhal—is to repurpose existing loans. I was—you know, I was picking up on one of the first words that Odile used today, which was flexibility. We need to have flexibility because, of course, some projects that were planned with available resources are no longer viable. So that’s why I think yesterday’s agreement is quite important, because we have identified which are going to be the priority so that we can repurpose existing processes. You know, and that’s the fastest way to deploy, when you already had a loan but instead of using it for one purpose we can use it for something else. And that’s already—you know, that will be deployed faster.  

Then the second element that I think is important, and it’s why it was important to prioritize, is that obviously the needs of the country are huge. And obviously, also, young persons in the country are called to the frontline, and not only to be doing repairs in houses. So that’s why identifying where the priorities are is of the essence to get them down, because otherwise there’s so many things going on that you may not be concentrating the resources where they can have the most important impact. And it is from this point of view that sometimes it is more important to get a clear plan and a clear priority list. And this is what we have achieved yesterday. And I hope we’ll get down to the concrete projects very soon. And then we can really go ahead as fast as possible. 

CREBO-REDIKER: I understand we have a question online. Would you like to read it, please?  

OPERATOR: We’ll take the next question from Peter Swiers. 

Q: Can you hear me?  


Q: OK. Thank you. My name is Peter Swiers. I’m a retired Foreign Service officer and was member of Atlantic Council delegation to visit Ukraine just after independence, in that wonderful, euphoric time. So first of all, my—how sad we feel for you and what you’re going through right now.  

But I—it’s something, I actually gave a lecture on Ukraine this morning. One of the things that was missing was trying to identify for the group in front of us, in front of me, what are the immediate infrastructure repair needs of Ukraine, just even though the war is still going on? I mean, what needs to be done now? One thinks right away, of course, of energy, but is—would you like to say some of the other things? Thank you. 

CREBO-REDIKER: Deputy Prime Minister, please. 

KUBRAKOV: Thank you so much. Yes, you’re exactly right. Energy’s number-one priority in preparation for the next heating season. In some cities not only just provide enough electricity, but heating system also destroyed. In second largest city Kharkiv, some other cities also as well. So this is first. Second, transport infrastructure. For example, each day attacks of Russian—of Russian armies continue, and in some cases, like last week, we had destroyed a railway bridge. And we need to repair it immediately. In some cases, road bridges, in some cases roads in direction to frontlines, in some periods we open new border cross checkpoints, and they also required new roads in the direction to those BCPs with our EU neighboring countries.  

So priorities are different but, again—or, for example, as I mentioned, last year construction of water pipeline to southern part of Dnieper region. And actually, I hope that a new project to Mykolaiv, construction of new water pipeline, we will jointly implement with European Investment Bank. We are working right now with the team at the bank. And I think very soon we will start implementation. Thanks. 

CREBO-REDIKER: I see one question. Anders, please.  

Q: Thank you, Heidi. Yeah, Anders Aslund, Georgetown University. 

You are both rightly praising the need for private enterprise investment. But in both the case of the EIB and EBRD. It this does not go to the private Ukrainian businessman. Much of the infrastructure and energy is owned by private businessmen today in Ukraine, but they are blacklisted by both your institutions for various reasons. But they are called oligarchs and politically influential people. During the war, I would argue that the oligarchs have essentially lost out. Either they are now sticking to the rules and standing up for Ukraine or they have left the country and are no longer there. Isn’t it time to change your view of big Ukrainian businessmen? Thank you. 

RENAUD-BASSO: That’s a difficult question. (Laughs.) 

CREBO-REDIKER: That’s certainly loaded. OK. (Laughs.) So, please go ahead.  

RENAUD-BASSO: I mean, that’s a difficult question. And you look—we look at the situation. I mean, for us integrity is absolutely key. And we need to be—we have stringent criteria. And I think it’s a condition to get into the confidence of our shareholders to continue our activity in Ukraine. So I think for a multilateral development bank, having very clear criteria, deep analysis of the situation, and we are very, very restrictive. We don’t—we don’t work with oligarchs for the reasons you know. Which is also the fact that—I mean, having people with so much financial capacity, but also political and, I mean, impact, and so forth, is very difficult to manage, and creates some difficulties for our institution. So for the time being, I mean, we haven’t changed our position. But, of course, we are looking, I mean, and having deep assessment for every project we are doing. 

CALVIÑO: Let me make two points. And I want to finish on a positive note, in reply to this question. (Laughter.) Every operation is assessed from the perspective of the financial viability, et cetera, the technical viability, the risk it entails, and the compliance risk it entails. Not only financial risk. Also the compliance risk. And I think it is in everybody’s interest that—and particularly when we’re talking about accession to the EU—is that Ukraine pursues the path to be, you know, the country that I think they want to be, also, in terms of the highest standards in this regard. So it is not that there is a blanket decision. Each case is assessed on its own merits. And each situation is assessed on the basis of updated information. At least, this is my experience in the three and a half months I have been in this job.  

Secondly, what I would like to take the opportunities to praise the Ukraine for the progress and the commitment they’re having to improve also their mechanisms and build their capacities. We have signed agreements with the different anticorruption institutions in the—in the country. You have established new anticorruption authorities following the recommendations. And I think that, thus, this capacity building is—you know, is taking place. And that will certainly result in an efficient use of the resources, which, again, it’s the shared interest of the Ukrainian public sector. And definitely it is a non-negotiable feature for us, that have to respond to what we do with public money in terms of ensuring that the investments are properly managed and reaching the desired impact on the ground.  

CREBO-REDIKER: So I think—I mean, this is—corruption has been an issue, and oligarch control of various important strategic assets has been an issue. But I think that that is something that Ukraine has taken—has gone a long way to make changes. And I would—I would invite the deputy prime minister to maybe address some of those—some of those milestones that Ukraine has already reached, and what you’re looking to do moving forward as well. 

KUBRAKOV: I would just like to add that, as already mentioned, the anticorruption institution, I think, during the last two years, all anticorruption by this—whole anticorruption infrastructure is in place. A National Anti-Corruption Bureau, a special anticorruption prosecutor office, an anticorruption court. And, I think, all those institutions, all persons in charge of this institution, they were appointed according to all procedures, all representatives of international partners were involved in the selection process, I think. So just in order to make sure that process was correct and transparent.  

So and they have proven their efficiency, especially during the previous year. They have record number of cases. Yes, this is sometimes, like, unpleasant. But from my point of view, from our point of view, the teams, they’re cleaning up the system. And I think that they are on the right track on this. All recent laws which were adopted at the end of previous year which allows—which provides more independency to SAPO, which increased number of detectives in National Anti-Corruption Bureau. They’re also important. And I think, again, those institutions, they’ve proven their efficiency.  

This is—and just regarding oligarchs and regarding other system. So, for us, just, again, we are—we are, like, at this moment we are in the war, and you mentioned the energy sector and we have different stakeholders. We have state-owned companies like Energoatom and like Ukrhydroenergo company. Also we have several private players. But what we need just them—to provide them possibility to repair their facilities and to be ready for the heating season. Definitely they will require financing. And, at the moment, loans which provided by Ukrainian, but, unfortunately, we have quite high—quite high interest rates. But, again, certainly we will try to find solution. 

CREBO-REDIKER: Well, we’re coming up on the—on the witching hour. But I want to say we’re all holding a collective breath for the vote in Congress tomorrow that we can actually—that the U.S. can actually come through and deliver on the package of support. So know that you have a lot of people in this room and online that are sort of cheering that on, and hoping that we can, as a country, deliver that to you as soon as possible. So thank you so much for joining us. It’s late, again, in Kyiv. And a very warm thank you to both Nadia and Odile for joining us today. And thanks to our online audience. Thanks to you for joining us. And thanks to our partner, the Peterson Institute, for cohosting us today. Thanks. (Applause.) 


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