Amid the cacophonous drone attacks orchestrated by Russia, Ukraine played host to a congregation of European leaders in Kyiv at the second international 'Grain From Ukraine' summit on November 25, 2023. The summit, a testament to the country's resilience, coincided with the somber commemoration of the Holodomor victims and sought to address the challenges posed to Ukrainian food exports.
Stalin's Ghost in the Present
Ukraine's President Zelensky drew parallels between Russia's Vladimir Putin and the infamous Josef Stalin, echoing the grim reality of Ukraine's current predicament. The echoes of history were hard to ignore as the country fought to keep its ports open, despite Russia's relentless blockade. Lithuania, in a show of solidarity, pledged an additional 2 million euros to the grain initiative, which has already seen the delivery of over 170,000 metric tons of food to countries in dire need.
Shift in Power and Allegations of Fraud
In a move that held significant implications, Ukraine's parliament appointed Vitaliy Koval, a regional leader close to the president's party, as head of the State Property Fund. This position bears significant influence over the privatization of state assets, including properties seized from Russia during the invasion. This appointment came against a backdrop of allegations of laundering over 275 million by the previous leadership.
Ukraine's Post-Invasion Reconstruction Challenge
Meanwhile, Ukraine braces itself for a daunting task - the reconstruction of the country post-invasion. The World Bank estimates the costs to be at least 400 billion. Ukrainian urbanists in Rotterdam are rallying for a modern, people-focused, and sustainable rebuild of the country. However, the endeavor is marred by a lack of expertise and a significant brain drain. Compounding these challenges, a Polish trucker blockade at the Ukrainian border continues unabated, leading to fatalities, fuel shortages, and the looming threat of higher prices for imported goods due to disrupted imports.