Stumbling Ahead

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The residents of Bucha, the Ukrainian town where Russians allegedly committed some of the worst war crimes of the conflict, have been cleaning up their streets. They’ve hauled ruined tanks, military vehicles and civilian cars and trucks to a lot on the edge of the Kyiv suburb, creating a junkyard-war memorial.

Russian forces occupied Bucha and terrorized the town until they withdrew in early April after being thwarted by Ukrainian forces from taking the capital of Kyiv, the New York Times wrote. Ukrainian officials are building a case against Russian soldiers now, reported Ukrayinska Pravda, an independent Ukrainian news outlet, via Yahoo! News.

Now liberated, the residents are cleaning up. At Bucha City Hall, Vadym Yevdokymenko was recently helping residents at local morgues find loved ones who had died in the fighting. “Most of the stories are pretty sad,” he told National Public Radio. “But at the very least, we find the bodies of people so that the family members don’t have to wonder what happened to them. They’re able to give them a dignified burial and they’re able to say their goodbyes.”

Leaders in other Ukrainian towns are also moving forward with robust rebuilding efforts as Ukrainians return to their sometimes-destroyed homes now that the war has shifted focus to the Russian-backed separatist regions in eastern Ukraine, wrote the Associated Press. As the Washington Post explained, Ukrainians were clearing rubble and drawing up reconstruction plans to prove that Russia has failed to break their spirit.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has claimed that his country will need at least $600 billion to replace what Russia has destroyed. It is not clear who will pay or if the international community can muster that sum. The Marshall Plan, which involved the US giving $13 billion in economic aid to Europe after World War II, is worth only $150 billion today.

Analysts at the Atlantic Council think Russia should pay. Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Pawel Jablonski agreed. In Euractiv, Jablonski argued that Western governments should seize Russian assets and use them to help the Ukrainians.

No matter who writes the check, grand plans to spend that money are already being drawn up.

The Centre for Economic Policy Research, a British-based think tank, issued a blueprint for the reconstruction of Ukraine, for example. The first task is clearing landmines and ensuring safety, noted France 24. Then come infrastructure repairs. Then the quick restoration of transportation links, housing and schools. The report noted that new buildings and infrastructure should not repeat the Soviet-style work that had existed since the country was part of the Soviet Union.

Maybe the first step should be making sure the war is definitively over.

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