Ukraine says a third of country demolished, USAID warns half of Ukraine is inundated with mines

Ukraine says a third of country demolished, USAID warns half of Ukraine is inundated with mines

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Ukrainian officials said this week that roughly a third of all its infrastructure had been demolished by Russia’s invading forces as the war continues for the 54th day.

Infrastructure Minister Oleksander Kubrakov said that $100 billion in damage had been inflicted on the nation’s infrastructure but added that the bill could run as high as $500 billion when everything from homes to roads had been tallied up, first reported Reuters. 

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Ukrainian servicemen walk among debris of damaged buildings after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 16, 2022. 

Ukrainian servicemen walk among debris of damaged buildings after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 16, 2022.  ((AP Photo/Felipe Dana))

“Practically all components of our transport infrastructure have suffered in one form or another,” Kubrakov told the publication Monday. “If we talk about roads, bridges and residential buildings, I believe that almost everything can be rebuilt in two years.

“If everyone works quickly,” he added. 

The infrastructure minister said the massive rebuild could be facilitated by using Russian assets that were frozen under U.S. and other foreign sanctions.

According to Russia’s Finance Minister Anton Siluanov, the West has frozen roughly $300 billion in gold and foreign exchange reserves.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has additionally been urging allied nations to pick a city or region to help rebuild as Russian forces focus their efforts in eastern Ukraine. 

But officials have warned that financing reconstruction projects are not the most immediate hurdle Ukrainians face when returning home.

The United Nations reported that over a seven-week period roughly 5 million Ukrainians fled the war-torn country and another 7 million were internally displaced. 

But as Russian forces have vacated areas in the west and north of the country, roughly 30,000 Ukrainians have returned on a daily basis, according to humanitarian groups. 

Firefighters work to extinguish multiple fires after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 16, 2022. 

Firefighters work to extinguish multiple fires after a Russian attack in Kharkiv, Ukraine, Saturday, April 16, 2022.  ((AP Photo/Felipe Dana))

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The United Nations announced in mid-April that an estimated 870,000 people who fled following Russia’s invasion had returned to Ukraine. 

Ukrainian officials have warned those returning home that some areas are not safe as the nation’s State Emergency Service looks to remove thousands of mines a day. 

“15,800 square miles of Ukraine—half the country’s territory—require demining,” USAID administrator Samantha Power said on Twitter. “The State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) is removing 2,000-6,000 mines a day to protect civilians and allow passage of urgent emergency assistance.”

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has warned that Ukraine is currently “one of the most contaminated by mines in the world” and said Russia’s strategy to further maim and kill Ukrainian citizens should be considered a war crime.