BERLIN (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called at a conference for short-term help in repairing his country’s electricity grid and long-term investments in its energy system to rally support for Ukraine’s recovery from the crisis. devastation caused by the Russian war open Tuesday.

The start of a week of intense diplomacy, during which he will also travel to the Group of Seven summit of Ukraine’s key Western allies in Italy and a global peace top in Switzerland, Zelenskyy also renewed his call for more help in fending off rocket attacks by Russian forces.

A follow-up to this is the two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin a similar meeting in London a year ago.

The German hosts say it will bring together 2,000 people from national and local politics, business and other areas, arguing that the task of supporting Ukraine’s recovery is too big for governments alone.

Among other immediate problems were the continued Russian attacks on Ukraine power grid have forced energy companies to impose nationwide power outages in recent weeks.

Zelenskyy told the conference that Ukraine will need equipment in the coming month for heating and power plants that are currently out of service. “This allows us to respond to the situation here and now,” he said.

According to the president, nine gigawatts of electricity generation capacity have been destroyed – including 80% of thermal energy and a third of hydropower – while peak consumption in Ukraine last winter was 18 gigawatts. Energy, he said, remains “one of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s main targets.”

Looking beyond Ukraine’s immediate problems, Zelenskyy said foreign investment in energy would be mutually beneficial.

“Ukraine has all the natural foundations for modern energy, but without your financing and investments we will not be able to realize this,” he said.

“This is not about subsidies, but about high-return investments for your companies, about a big market for your equipment, about loan programs for your institutions,” all of which could create tens of thousands of new jobs, he added.

That message was echoed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who said the World Bank has estimated that Ukraine’s reconstruction and modernization will require investments of almost $500 billion over the next decade.

“The reconstruction of Ukraine is and must also be a business case,” Scholz told the participants. He said this is illustrated by the fact that Ukraine has exported surplus electricity to the European Union since 2022 – “which makes clear what applies to the reconstruction of Ukraine as a whole: it benefits everyone involved.”

Scholz, whose country has become Ukraine’s largest arms supplier after the United States, again appealed to other allies to help strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses, “because the best reconstruction is the one that does not have to take place.”

Since Russia launched a spring offensive around Kharkiv, Zelenskyy has insisted that Ukraine urgently needs another seven US-made Patriot air defense systems.

The Berlin conference also focuses on support for the reforms that Ukraine has implemented in its bid to join the EU.

On Monday, the head of the State Agency for the Rehabilitation of Ukraine, Mustafa Nayyem, announced his resignation on Facebook. He cited “systemic obstacles that prevent me from effectively exercising my powers” ​​and accused the government of bogging down his agency in red tape.

Ukraine has not had a minister concerned with reconstruction since Oleksandr Kubrakov was fired in May. Nayyem complained that the Prime Minister of Ukraine had excluded him from participating in the Berlin conference.

Zelenskyy, who is making his third visit to Berlin since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022, is also expected to deliver a speech to the German parliament, the Bundestag. A few weeks after the start of the war, he gave a video address to lawmakers.

The Ukrainian president last visited in mid-February, when he signed a bilateral agreement security agreement with Scholz, one of several agreements the allies have reached with Kiev to signal their long-term support.

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Arhirova reported from Kiev, Ukraine.

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