Zelenskyy Seeks Aid and Investment in Ukraine’s Energy Sector at Berlin Recovery Conference

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for immediate assistance in repairing his country’s electricity grid and long-term investments in its energy infrastructure. He made this appeal during the opening of the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin, which is aimed at gathering support for Ukraine’s recovery from the devastation caused by Russia’s war.

This conference marks the start of a week of intense diplomacy for Zelenskyy, who will also be attending the Group of Seven summit in Italy, where he will continue his pleas for more support in repelling missile attacks by Russian forces.

The two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference in Berlin follows a similar event held in London a year ago.

The German hosts have brought together 2,000 participants from national and local politics, business, and other sectors, emphasizing that the task of supporting Ukraine’s recovery is too large for governments alone.

Among the urgent issues facing Ukraine, sustained Russian attacks on its power grid in recent weeks have forced energy companies to implement rolling blackouts.

Zelenskyy informed the conference that Ukraine requires equipment for heating and electricity plants currently out of operation in the coming month. “This will allow us to address the situation immediately,” he stated.

According to the president, nine gigawatts of electricity generating capacity have been destroyed, including 80% of thermal power and one-third of hydroelectric power. This comes at a time when peak consumption in Ukraine last winter was 18 gigawatts. He highlighted that energy remains “one of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin’s main targets.”

Looking beyond the immediate crisis, Zelenskyy emphasized that foreign investments in energy would be mutually beneficial.

“Ukraine possesses all the natural resources for modern energy, but without your financing and investments, we won’t be able to achieve this,” he said.

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

This message was echoed by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who stated that the World Bank estimates that rebuilding and modernizing Ukraine will require investments of nearly $500 billion over the next 10 years.

“The reconstruction of Ukraine is and also must be a business case,” Scholz told participants. He illustrated this point by mentioning that Ukraine has exported excess electricity to the European Union since 2022 — “that makes clear what goes for the reconstruction of Ukraine as a whole: it benefits all concerned.”

Scholz, whose country has become Ukraine’s second-largest weapons supplier after the United States, reiterated his call for other allies to help strengthen Ukraine’s air defense, “because the best reconstruction is that which doesn’t have to take place.”

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

The Berlin conference also focuses on supporting reforms that Ukraine has embarked on in its bid to join the EU.

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

Ukraine hasn’t had a minister dedicated to reconstruction since Oleksandr Kubrakov was dismissed in May. Nayyem complained that Ukraine’s prime minister barred him from attending the Berlin conference.

Zelenskyy, making his third visit to Berlin since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022, is also expected to address the German parliament, or Bundestag. He delivered a video address to lawmakers a few weeks after the war began.

The Ukrainian president last visited in mid-February, when he signed a bilateral security agreement with Scholz, one of a string of such accords that allies have reached with Kyiv to signal their long-term backing.