Ukraine received $6.5 billion in pledges at an international donors’ conference in Warsaw Thursday.
VOA Eastern Europe Bureau Chief Myroslava Gongadze discussed the conference and other issues with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal in the Polish capital.
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
VOA: Donors pledged nearly $7 billion for Ukraine today. Are you satisfied with this pledge?
UKRAINIAN PRIME MINISTER DENYS SHMYHAL: This is not the first and is not the last donors’ conference. So, we are so very grateful to our Polish and Swedish partners, to the European Commission, the European Union, because they make huge efforts to support Ukraine in all of the spheres. Here today, we mainly were concentrated on the financial sphere. And $6.5 billion is the result of this donors’ conference for Ukrainian support. So, we will see what partners give, how many resources, how much money, and will decide all together how to share it on the different directions of social, humanitarian and other obligations of our state.
VOA: The White House asked Congress for additional support, $33 billion. How would this money be organized, and how much do you expect for the budget, and how much do you expect for other needs?
SHMYHAL: So, the budget deficit for Ukraine during these four months is about $5 billion per month. We discussed this all with all of our partners — with the United States, IMF and World Bank approved this amount. And after this, we begin to work with the IMF. They create a special administrative account, and the World Bank creates a special trust account. And we ask all of the partners to share with Ukraine through these accounts 10% of their SDR (Special Drawing Right), which the IMF shares between all of the members of the IMF. And we also hope that partners will make direct support from their budget for Ukraine. And when (U.S.) President (Joe) Biden (announced) this $33 billion support for Ukraine, so part of this amount of money, about $8 billion, is actually for urgent support of the Ukrainian budget during the next four months. The rest of the amount, we agreed to finance from all of us or our partners — from the IMF, World Bank, from the European Union. And we need this support, this financial support, to not make a mission of money and to not create hyperinflation in Ukraine. So, the macro financial stability of our country is very important for all of our partners, because war will finish the Ukrainian. Ukraine will win this war and after the glory, we need strong economic conditions to begin, in a very fast way, recover our territories, our regions, cities and because of this, partners understand this absolutely clearly and we work with them closely to go actually in this way.
VOA: This war affected [the] agricultural industry in Ukraine, and specifically the world is actually facing a serious hunger crisis because of this war. What would Ukraine be able to actually harvest this year, and how are you working with international partners to collect the harvest and actually deliver it?
SHMYHAL: … European, African and Asian countries are waiting for more than 90 million tons of our grains, corn, wheat, sunflower oil, and it really will lead to the world food crisis. All of the countries are so much disturbed about this. We have negotiations with all of our partners. We have negotiations about this with the Secretary-General (Antonio Guterres) of the United Nations. During our visit to the United States and meeting with President Biden, we also discussed this issue, because we understand that if we do not unblock our seaports, it will lead not (only) to a food crisis during this year and possible famine in many countries on the African or Asian continents, but it will lead to the next year’s food crisis, because our warehouses are (filled) for this year’s harvest. And when we will have even 90% of amount during this year, we will have no possibility of where to collect this new harvest in Ukraine. So, we urgently need support from our partners; they discussed this possibility, and maybe there will be some kind of humanitarian mission, maybe under U.N. protection. Maybe there will be some alliance that will organize these blue or green corridors for exporting harvest and grain from Ukraine to countries which are waiting for this.
VOA: And you expect Russia would agree?
SHMYHAL: We hope so, because the world and civilized world, democratic world should make this pressure, because in either case, there will be big problems in many countries, and it will be food, real food crisis. Russia creates energy crisis during this winter; Russia would like to create a migration crisis because of the destroying civilian infrastructure, and because of these atrocities and war crimes in Ukraine, and we know that the quantity of killed civilians is 10 times more than military people, so it’s absolutely clear that they caused genocide against the Ukrainian people. But their other aim is to create fear among Ukrainians and to create a migration tsunami. But the European Union managed this, and all of our women and children are in the European Union, in all of our countries which house them very kindly. So, we are so very grateful for this, and the migration crisis (failed), but the food crisis, energy crisis is still very actual. So, we should find how we manage this all together, all the world.
VOA: And one more question about military support. You’re receiving a lot of military support from (the U.S.), from other countries and NATO countries. You signed an agreement today with the Polish government. Could you give us a hint as to what that is about? And how do you assess different countries’ support for Ukraine militarily?
SHMYHAL: Today I found that one big amount of more than $12 billion during these 71 days — Ukraine received from our partners for different spheres — for military sphere, for humanitarian sphere, but in any way, the biggest amount of support is from the United States. We are so very grateful for this, appreciate this so much. Poland is the next one country, European Union, and different financial organizations, IMF, World Bank, EBRD (European Bank for Reconstruction and Development), and all of the countries and the European Union especially, Canada for example. Their reaction was immediate, very urgent during the first week of the war. They support us financially. Many countries begin to support us in the sphere of defense, defense absolutely, also in a very fast way. So, the main, our supporter in the military sphere is the United States and all of the alliance.
VOA: The Poland agreement?
SHMYHAL: The Poland agreement is not public. It’s an agreement in the sphere of defense, and in the military and defense sphere. But we can’t say what this agreement is about. It’s a very important and very good agreement for Ukraine.