Ukraine war damage tops $100 billion so far, economic adviser says

By David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Ukraine's top government economic adviser Oleg Ustenko said on Thursday that invading Russian forces have so far destroyed at least $100 billion worth of infrastructure, buildings and other physical assets.

Ustenko, chief economic adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, told an online event hosted by the Peterson Institute for International Economics that the war has caused 50% of Ukrainian businesses to shut down completely, while the other half are operating at well below their capacity.

He said the damage estimate is "very approximate" and includes roads, bridges, hospitals, equipment and other assets.

Asked how such a reconstruction effort could be financed, Ustenko said part of it could come from Russian assets that are frozen throughout the world, including Russian central bank assets held outside the country and immobilized by Western sanctions. The seized assets of wealthy Russian oligarchs could also be transferred to a reconstruction fund, he added.

Asked about the resilience of Ukraine's financial system, and bank payment operations, Ustenko said: "Look, we are doing, I would say, OK under the current circumstances."

He said Ukraine's fiscal reserves are currently at about $27.5 billion, down from about $30 billion before the invasion.

Despite some pressure on the hryvnia currency, Ukrainians in areas not occupied by Russian forces are able to access cash via ATMs and supermarket cashiers without the long lines seen in the first two days of the war, and credit card and other electronic payment systems are working normally, he added.

"Even in those cities surrounded by now by the Russian army…(residents) are able use their cards," Ustenko said.

(Reporting by David Lawder; Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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