To Pay the Damages. How Ukraine Is Measuring the Harm Inflicted by Russia and Why

By Serhii Korovainyi for WSJ photos

In over four months of the full-scale invasion, Russia has damaged or destroyed a large number of residential buildings, schools, hospitals, and roads. Some cities and villages have been razed to the ground. Half a million people are left homeless, and thousands have lost their jobs. The Russian aggression has left hardly any aspect of Ukraine’s life untouched, inflicting direct and indirect damage.

Damage assessment is an important step towards the future reconstruction of the country, but first and foremost, it is crucial for imposing reparations on Russia. That is why all the damages must be documented.

How Are Damages Measured?

The Ukrainian government has established a special committee that will audit the damages inflicted by Russia. The agency will keep track of the data from the territorial communities that have suffered damage and destruction. It will record absolutely all Ukrainian losses, including the cost of destroyed bridges, roads, and residential buildings, as well as the lost business profits.

The Ukrainian government is measuring the damage from Russia’s invasion using the portal called “Russia Will Pay” (damaged.in.ua), launched in March with the Office of the President and KSE Institute. There is a form on the website for anyone to submit information about damaged objects.

A similar opportunity appeared via the Diia e-governance portal. People whose homes were damaged by Russia can report about it via mobile application. The amount of destruction and compensation must be assessed by a special commission.

A separate process has been established for measuring the damages suffered in the war by the agriculture sector. Farmers who have lost their lands, crops, equipment, etc. can report it at damagedagro.in.ua.

To document the ecological threats brought by Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Ukraine created the website ecozagroza.gov.ua. Anyone can participate in data collection if they have witnessed a crime against the environment.

What is the Financial Equivalent of the Inflicted Damage?

As of today, the exact amount of losses caused by Russia cannot be known. There are only ballpark figures. Ukraine has only begun to assess its losses. On the other hand, every day of the war brings more and more damage

Experts believe that not only direct destruction should be counted in but also indirect losses caused by the war, such as the drop in GDP, investment cessation, an outflow of labor, additional defense and social support costs, etc.

Back in April, the National Council for the Recovery of Ukraine from the Consequences of the War was established in Ukraine. Recently, as part of her work, a report prepared by the Kyiv School of Economics was made public with estimates of the total losses of our economy due to the war.

Total losses range from $564 billion to $600 billion for the first three and a half months of Putin’s aggression. 95.5 billion dollars are direct losses due to the housing and infrastructure destruction. Almost 127 billion dollars are indirect losses, primarily lost potential income of Ukrainian business (industry, agriculture, trade and other industries). The remaining funds are losses of GDP, investments, etc.

So far, residential areas and various infrastructure facilities have suffered the most damage and destruction: this includes at least 45 million square meters of housing, almost 24 thousand kilometers of roads, 6.3 thousand kilometers of railroad tracks, and 305 bridges. Direct documented losses of Ukrainian infrastructure have already reached almost $104 billion, says the Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov.

The enemy has shelled 770 medical institutions, 121 of which were completely destroyed, and a lot of expensive equipment was lost.

The Russian army caused great damage to the educational sector: as of June 27, 2,061 educational institutions were damaged, of which 212 were completely destroyed.

Damages to sport infrastructure are estimated at $110 million, to agriculture, at $4.3 billion, and to the environment, at almost $7 billion.

How to Make Russia Pay? 

The Russians will not be able to shirk responsibility if the losses are documented as thoroughly as possible. Unfortunately, international organizations and state agencies are inefficient when it comes to enforcing payment of reparations from the Kremlin. The UN’s mechanism will not help because Russia has veto power. So Ukraine’s go-to option is to found a new international institution. Reparations can be paid from the Russian assets frozen abroad.

Ukraine invites other states to sign an international treaty on the creation of a mechanism for considering the damages incurred by Ukraine as a result of the Russian aggression. The Treaty will stipulate the establishment of the Standing Committee for the assessment of claims for damages. In response to claims, the states that are parties to the Treaty will freeze and then transfer Russian assets to the Compensation Fund.

The Ukrainian diplomats are working hard to encourage international partners to consider the Treaty. After all, the current fight against Russia is a common cause of the whole civilized world. It is only by uniting that we will be able to beat the enemy and restore peace in Europe.

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