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Swiss to double aid to Ukraine

Empty supermarket shelves in Pokrovsk, Ukraine, on July 2 Keystone / Orlando Barria

Switzerland will double its aid to Ukraine to CHF100 million ($104 million) by the end of 2023, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis announced at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in the Swiss city of Lugano.

He also freed up CHF15 million to support the country’s digital economy. “Ukraine has to lead [its reconstruction] but we have to support it,” said Cassis, who also holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year.

In addition to its bilateral assistance, Switzerland will continue to support the initiatives of international organisations for Ukraine. Multilateral efforts are “an antidote to the use of force”, he said on Tuesday, the final day of the conference.

Switzerland also remains available to provide its good offices, he said. The Russian response to the possible representation of Russian interests in Ukraine or Ukrainian interests in Russia is still pending. Cassis said Switzerland was ready to host talks “to put an end to the war when the time comes”.

Call on oligarchs to pay

For his part, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, speaking in Lugano, repeated that his country was the victim of “genocide”. He again thanked the international community for its support.

He said the cost of rebuilding Ukraine following Russia’s invasion could reach $750 billion (CHF720 billion) and rich Russians should help pay the bill.

“We believe that the key source of recovery should be the confiscated assets of Russia and Russian oligarchs,” he said, citing estimates that frozen Russian assets were worth $300-$500 billion.

“The Russian authorities unleashed this bloody war. They caused this massive destruction and they should be held accountable for it.”

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