Ukrainian PM talks loss, reconstruction with NHK World

Nearly two years from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, cities and towns lie in ruins with no end to the war in sight. But the country is already planning to rebuild even though battle rages on.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visited Tokyo to discuss reconstruction and call for more international help. He spoke with NHK World about Ukraine's ordeal and the need for international support.

With Zelenskyy from the start

Shmyhal was among government members that appeared in a video Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelenskyy released in late February 2022, just after the war began.

Shmyhal has been beside Zelenskyy in the fight to free Ukraine ever since the Russian invasion.

"Two years gone, we still continue our resilience, we protect our country, protect our families, homes, our lives," he said.
"We have tremendous support from all civilized world. We need first of all your experience, your knowledge. We believe that businesses will bring new possibilities for recovery of Ukraine."

Japanese promises to restore 'beautiful Ukraine'

Japanese Prime Minister Kishida Fumio says Japan will continue to work until peace returns to the "beautiful land of Ukraine."

The Japan-Ukraine Conference for Promotion of Economic Growth and Reconstruction was held in Tokyo on February 19th. Representatives from about 130 companies from both countries, along with government officials including Japan's Prime Minister Kishida Fumio, and Shmyhal, took part.

Kishida stressed that Japan is committed to strongly assisting economic reconstruction through cooperation by both the public and private sectors.

Shmyhal said by working together, the two countries can turn current challenges into an opportunity for growth and prosperity.

Knowledge, not weapons

Japan and Ukraine signed 56 memorandums of cooperation at the conference.

Japan proposed assistance in seven areas, including landmine and debris removal, agricultural productivity, and building electricity and transport infrastructure.

Japan has strict guidelines on arms exports due to its pacifist Constitution. It instead aims to provide knowledge for reconstruction since it has experienced frequent natural disasters, as well as World War Two. And Shmyhal says that's what the country will need.

"Japan has experience of recovery of your country after great catastrophe, after earthquake, after tsunami. This experience, your knowledge, your technology may bring Ukraine .... how to recover our country, our infrastructure, our homes, our enterprises, bridges, roads in very fast way."


Ukraine has sustained extensive damage from Russia's invasion, and Shmyhal described the dire situation.

"Because of this aggression, Russian aggression into my country, we lost 30% of our economy, about 20% of our territories and we lost 3 point half million of jobs."

In addition, damaged roads stretch to some 8,400 kilometers.
But the most critical damage is to houses. Nearly 2-million households have been affected.

In the Kyiv region alone, more than 29,000 buildings were damaged, but only 60 percent have been repaired.

A construction worker worries about rebuilding.

Some residents are anxious about rebuilding their homes but say they don't have the money to do so.
There are also staffing problems. This construction worker says 60 percent of workers have gone to the frontlines or have been called up.

Protecting lives

More than 10-million people have been forced to leave their homes, some to outside Ukraine. Prime Minister Shmyhal says protecting lives is the top priority.

"They are not coming back to Ukraine from European Union, from all around the world, because of security issue. We have all possible kinds of air defense equipment from all of our partners. And we increase level of our security and our air defense."

"Unfortunately, this operation which were planned, counter offensive don't bring results which all the partners, maybe all Ukrainian society waiting for."

"We have support from USA. We have support from European Union. We have support from all of our partners but unfortunately, production of ammunition all around the world, including European Union, is not so high to bring needed amounts of ammunition to Ukraine."

Ukraine withdrew its troops from the key eastern city of Avdiivka on February 17. Russia declared it had full control of the city.

As military assistance from the United States dwindles, Ukraine's ground troops are said to be at their most vulnerable since the start of the war.
Shmyhal asked for more international support, which he says will bring a victory.

"Not only Putin but many other dictators, many other autocratic countries are looking now, who will prevail in this war. So this is not war between Russia and Ukraine. This is a war between values, between autocratic and imperialistic values, and between democratic values. And if Ukraine will lose, so this war will be not last one. It will be only beginning of many other smaller or bigger wars all around the world."

Watch video 3:32