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Plans for Rebuilding Kharkiv Begin Pending End of Ukraine War

A Ukrainian serviceman walks amid the rubble of a building heavily damaged by multiple Russian bombardments near a frontline in Kharkiv, Ukraine, April 25, 2022.

More than 10 U.N. agencies are working on a master plan to rebuild the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, which has been pummeled by invading Russian forces for more than two months, assuming Russia is defeated.

The U.N. task force, which is coordinated by the U.N. Economic Commission for Europe, would oversee reconstruction efforts. No one is under any illusion about the difficulties the work would involve, least of all Ihor Terekhov, the Mayor of Kharkiv.

Speaking from Kharkiv, he said work on the master plan is being done under continued Russian shelling. He said it would be necessary to start implementing the reconstruction plan immediately after a Ukrainian victory. He spoke through an interpreter.

“After the hostilities, I believe that we will be able to recover the city within a period of two to three years so that the city of Kharkiv becomes even better than it used to be. …We will start to rebuild and recover the city as an ideal city of the future,” said Terekhov.

Kharkiv is the second-largest city in Ukraine and the capital of eastern Ukraine, the epicenter of fighting. Terekhov said 25% of the city’s housing has been destroyed. He said Russia has bombed administrative buildings, schools, hospitals, and kindergartens, turning the city’s infrastructure into rubble.

English architect Lord Norman Foster is leading the development of the master plan. He calls this an opportunity to combine the revered heritage of the past with the new technologies needed to create a city of the future.

“This is an opportunity to make the city in the future even greater than it was in the past. … It is an opportunity to make it even more vibrant and more pioneering in terms of its trends, its technology, its industry—all the things that make a city great,” said Lord Foster.

It is not possible to determine how long it would take to rebuild Kharkiv or what it would cost while the war rages. However, the task force sees development of the plan as an act of confidence in the viability of the city and in its future.