War has destroyed $100 billion in Ukraine assets so far: Official

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The Russian invasion has so far destroyed about $100 billion in roads, bridges and businesses in Ukraine, dealing a huge hit to its economy, a Kyiv government official said Thursday.

“Currently around 50 percent of our businesses are not operating, and those which are still operating are not operating at 100 percent,” said Oleg Ustenko, chief economic advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

“The situation in terms of economic growth, is going to be really very depressing, even if the war immediately stops,” he said in a virtual speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

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Ustenko repeated his call for European and other governments to cut off Moscow’s access to “blood money” by boycotting Russian oil and natural gas.

“Europeans are still paying to this monster in order to kill our people, innocent people,” he said.

While European nations rely on Russian energy for heat, “I can assure you it’s much, much, much colder in the underground of Ukraine where the people are hidden.”

The official praised the US for halting imports of Russian oil and said he hoped Washington would also help create “recovery fund” for Ukraine.

Kyiv also could use the approximately $300 billion in Russian central bank reserves frozen as a result of Western sanctions, as well as funds seized from oligarchs who are allies of President Vladimir Putin.

“We have to rebuild the economy,” he said.

The International Monetary Fund on Wednesday approved $1.4 billion in fast-disbursing aid for Ukraine, and the World Bank this week released nearly $500 million of what is expected to be a $3 billion financing package.

In addition, the US Congress on Wednesday approved $14 billion in aid for Ukraine.

But Ustenko said, “what we need most of all is more weapons and ammunition. This is critically important.”

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