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BERLIN: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday rebuilding Ukraine was a “generational task” that must start immediately, even as Russia’s invasion rages on.

“What is at stake here is nothing less than creating a new Marshall Plan for the 21st century – a generational task that must begin now,” Scholz said as he opened an international reconstruction conference for Ukraine in Berlin.

Scholz said that rebuilding Ukraine marked a “challenge for generations” but one that also provided a chance to modernise its infrastructure.

Proposed EU gas cap can only work with non-EU partners: Scholz

The task is “one that will require the combined strength of the entire international community but it is also an opportunity for generations to come if we get it right”, he said.

Speaking at the same event, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called the scale of destruction in the war-ravaged country “staggering”, with the World Bank estimating the toll of the damage at 350 billion euros ($345 billion).

“This is for sure more than one country or one union can provide alone,” she said. “We need all hands on deck.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky was also addressing the one-day conference hosted by the German government, via video link.

He appealed to international supporters to cover his country’s $38-billion budget hole for 2023, saying such assistance was essential if Ukraine is to get back on its feet.

“At this very conference we need to make a decision on assistance to cover the next year’s budget deficit for Ukraine,” he said.

“For Ukraine it is a very significant amount of money.”

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