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The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

The University of Chicago’s Independent Student Newspaper since 1892

Chicago Maroon

Ukrainian Prime Minister Speaks About Persistence and Recovery at International House

“There is a saying that armies win battles, but economies win wars. So today, I would like to talk about Ukraine’s resilience, wartime economy, and future recovery,” said Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal.
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Courtesy of IOP
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal speaking at International House.

On April 16, Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal visited International House at UChicago to speak about Ukraine’s wartime economy and recovery plan and call for increased global support for Ukraine. 

The event was moderated by Institute of Politics (IOP) director Heidi Heitkamp and jointly organized by the IOP, Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, International House, and UChicago Global. Shmyhal, who has been prime minister since 2020, was introduced by Polsky Center Managing Director Samir Mayekar and Ukrainian American Booth School of Business student Marko Supronyuk ‘24. 

“There is a saying that armies win battles, but economies win wars. So today, I would like to talk about Ukraine’s resilience, wartime economy, and future recovery,” Shmyhal said.

Throughout his speech, Shmyhal was staunchly optimistic about Ukraine’s prospects both economically and militarily. He claimed Ukraine has continued to encourage private sector innovation and growth during the war so that it could maintain a balanced economy, rather than one solely concentrated on funneling resources towards defense. 

“I remember that in the spring of 2022, we were told, ‘you will be lucky if the Ukrainian economy falls by only 50%, and that inflation could reach triple digits.’ It seemed like the economy was in free fall. But two years later, the situation looks completely different,” Shmyhal said. “In 2023, the Ukrainian economy had already begun to recover.” 

Shmyhal credited international support and Ukrainian public policy as factors towards Ukraine’s economic resilience. He said the Ukrainian government has taken measures including increased support for small and medium businesses, war risk insurance, stimulating domestic demand and export market access for Ukrainian products, and implementing a program for the rapid reconstruction of infrastructure and housing.

Looking towards historical examples of economic revitalization including the Marshall Plan in Europe while drawing parallels with the U.S. ‘s “Build Back Better,” Shmyhal also laid out a plan for Ukraine’s economic recovery after the war. 

“We will not just win the war, but we should win the peace after this war by rebuilding our country,” he said, highlighting defense, agricultural processing, machine building, construction, IT, and energy as “priority areas on which the Ukrainian economy of the future will be based.” He said creating a sense of security and recovering the jobs lost during the war would also be crucial to bringing back Ukrainian refugees who fled the country after the invasion.

Throughout the event, Shmyhal emphasized the global stakes of the Russia-Ukraine war. He called for international aid and support for Ukraine, including in the form of artillery ammunition and the supply of air defense, as well as for Ukraine to be accepted as part of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Since the event, the United States House of Representatives passed a bill authorizing nearly $61 billion in aid for Ukraine. The Senate has yet to approve the bill, but it is widely expected to pass.

“This is not just about Putin versus Ukraine. It’s not even about Putin versus the West and the free world. We are talking about protecting the existing global security system against a worldwide threat of uncontrolled aggression, crimes against humanity, and genocides in many parts of the world,” Shmyhal said. “If Ukraine falls, global security will be destroyed. We will all be under tremendous danger.”

Shmyhal also argued that further international punishment of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is necessary to uphold global security, and that frozen Russian assets after the onset of the war should be used to fund Ukraine’s recovery.

“[Russia’s] main crime is the crime of aggression – the political decision to make this unprovoked, illegal aggression against Ukraine. Putin and his regime should be punished for this by an international tribunal such as the kind [that took place] after big conflicts like the second world war,” Shmyhal said. “It should be demonstrated to all potential aggressors, to all dictators, that such unprovoked, illegal aggression will be punished and you will pay for it at the end of the day. This is crucial for the global security system which we had for the last 80 years and which we would like to bring back globally.”

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Tiffany Li
Tiffany Li, Developer
Tiffany Li is a member of the Class of 2026 after transferring from Middlebury College. She studies political science and economics and is interested in housing policy, international relations, and music. She reports for the News section of The Maroon and is on the Video and Data teams.
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