Zelenskyy launches massive effort to make Ukrainians whole after Russian destruction

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Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has launched a government project to compensate citizens whose real estate has been destroyed in the Russian invasion, the president announced in a speech Friday.

Ukraine’s government has already “started accepting applications for compensation for the destroyed real estate of our citizens,” he said, according to an English translation from the presidential office. “The state will return to our people everything that the occupiers destroyed – houses, apartments, etc.”

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“In a few days, 25,491 applications have already been submitted,” the president added. He estimated that the number of residents in these houses and apartments is 63,471 people. “But we know that more needs to be restored. Much more.”

Ukraine's National Police said seven people are dead and five wounded in a mortar strike east of Kyiv, in Makariv. (National Police of Ukraine)

Ukraine’s National Police said seven people are dead and five wounded in a mortar strike east of Kyiv, in Makariv. (National Police of Ukraine)
(National Police of Ukraine)

Zelenskyy urged citizens to spread the news about the program.

“So tell everyone who needs it about such a government program, an important program,” he said. “The opportunity to submit applications will soon be available offline, in the administrative service centers, in the mode usual for many Ukrainians.”

The Russian invasion has displaced almost a quarter of Ukraine’s population in the past 37 days. The UN Refugee Agency estimated that the war has directly impacted over 10 million people, with more than 6.5 million of them displaced within Ukraine and another 3.7 million Ukrainian refugees forced to evacuate the country. 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via video call to the Doha Forum in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Ukraine's president made a surprise video appearance Saturday at Qatar's Doha Forum, calling on the energy-rich nation and others to boost their production to counteract the loss of Russian energy supplies.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy speaks via video call to the Doha Forum in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, March 26, 2022. Ukraine’s president made a surprise video appearance Saturday at Qatar’s Doha Forum, calling on the energy-rich nation and others to boost their production to counteract the loss of Russian energy supplies.
(AP Photo/Lujain Jo)

More than 13 million Ukrainians are also unable to leave their communities and have been left stranded amid the ongoing war, the agency added.

Ukraine’s top government economic adviser Greg Ustenko estimated earlier this month that Russian forces had destroyed at least $100 billion worth of infrastructure, buildings, and other physical assets. He also estimated that the war has caused 50% of Ukrainian businesses to shut down completely, while the other half operate below capacity.

Damaged cars and a destroyed accommodation building are seen near a checkpoint in Brovary, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.

Damaged cars and a destroyed accommodation building are seen near a checkpoint in Brovary, outside Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 1, 2022.
(AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)

As of March 24, KSE Institute – an analytical unit of the Kyiv School of Economics in Ukraine’s capital – estimated that the destruction from the war has caused $62.9 billion in damage. KSE Institute, which compiled data as part of its “Russia Will Pay” project, reported that at least 4,431 residential buildings, 92 factories and warehouses, 378 institutions of secondary and higher education, 138 health care institutions, 12 airports, seven thermal power plants and hydroelectric power plants have been damaged, destroyed, or seized. 

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Global economic losses amount to $543-600 billion, KSE added.

It remains unclear how Ukraine would raise the sums to compensate citizens who lost their homes and other real estate in the war, although Western aid will likely play a large role in the effort.

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