How Ukraine can Grow from this War
Anyone who has been to Ukraine in recent years, especially outside of Kyiv, would be well aware of the decrepit surroundings, crumbling buildings, and poverty-stricken citizens. If this war has done any good for Ukraine, it has demolished many buildings that, frankly, needed demolishing anyway.
The fact is, Ukraine was in dire need of a major overhaul in many different areas and this war could be the true catalyst to finally resolving many of the major issues Ukraine has faced for far too long. The country’s infrastructure is crumbling, military equipment is ageing, corruption is rampant, and the country is mainly viewed as a “flyover” country – not a place for Western tourists to visit.
All of this can – and should – change when the war with Russia is over.
The first priority for Ukraine will be the reconstruction of its villages, towns, and cities that were destroyed by the Russian army. For years, Ukrainian civilian infrastructure was in dire need of renovation and, in many cases, complete destruction and reconstruction. Many buildings were built many years ago under the Soviets and their conditions were sub-par – certainly by Western standards.
Second, Ukraine’s military will likely undergo a massive overhaul, with many citizens volunteering to remain available and ready to fight again should the need arise. Ukraine will likely seek to invest in military hardware and software, drone and AI technology, as well as developing its manpower and reserves forces.
Third, Volodymyr Zelensky, Ukraine’s president, is now a world-famous figure, not only because of his bravado and insistence on staying in Kyiv, even though he was offered a rescue flight out by the Biden administration, but because of his ironclad dedication to Ukraine’s citizens and to the country itself. His willingness to stand up to a man like Vladimir Putin is impressive as well, especially given Zelensky’s background as a comedian.
Zelensky now has the ability to build on his popularity and rally Ukrainians around him to fight corruption, improve Ukraine’s governance, and improve the lives of Ukrainian citizens. He can also use his global popularity as a way to develop deeper diplomatic, political, military, and economic ties with numerous Western countries.
Fourth, Zelensky can build on Ukraine’s popularity to develop the country and highlight it as an optimal place for tourists to visit, especially in the Spring and Summer when the weather is beautiful. Ukraine is rich in heritage and culture and has a lot to offer tourists seeking something different than the usual hotspots such as London, New York, or Paris. Tourist trips to Ukraine’s outlying villages and towns, where citizens live their lives in a way simpler fashion than most Westerners do, could be especially interesting. The small hamlets, with their dirt roads, water wells, thatched-roof huts, and chickens roaming around, offer a true glimpse into a way of life many modern people have never seen. Tourism income could be hugely beneficial to Ukraine’s suffering economy.
Fifth, Ukraine is a major exporter of iron, steel, and cereals, such as wheat. Ukraine should take advantage of the post-war situation and rebuild its factories to even higher standards, acquire newer and more advanced equipment and develop its capacity to grow its output. It is highly likely, riding on the momentum of Zelensky’s popularity as well as the world’s willingness to assist Ukraine, that the country will receive foreign funding and aid in rebuilding the country’s devastated infrastructure.
Sixth, Ukraine’s proximity to Western Europe has highlighted not only Ukraine’s vulnerability to Russian military advances, but also Europe’s vulnerability. When just a few months ago, NATO would not have considered bolstering its forces on Russia’s border, today that has changed. When just a few months ago, Germany would not have armed its drones, today that has changed. Russia’s unprovoked military attack on Ukraine has forced other European countries to rethink their defensive capabilities. When this war ends, we will witness the emergence of a different Europe – one that recognizes the need to maintain a strong defensive, and if necessary, offensive capability.
Finally, Ukraine can take advantage of the momentum created by the war and maintain global attention by marketing itself as a business and innovation hub. With rent prices astronomically high across Western Europe, companies seeking solutions to lower costs can and should be encouraged to rent new office space in Kyiv for example. Ukraine can develop a thriving business hub for local and foreign companies where European and local talent can come together and combine their skills.
Ukraine is on everyone’s minds today. From a marketing point of view, this is priceless. Ukraine should take advantage of its moment in the spotlight and strive to use its current popularity as a springboard for the future of the country and its citizens.