BRUSSELS - The European Union's investment bank on Thursday called for more budget guarantees from the bloc's 27 members to match or exceed this year the 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 bln) spent in Ukraine since the Russian invasion last February.
The European Investment Bank (EIB), the lending arm of the European Union, said it had already disbursed 1.7 billion euros and had another 540 million for ongoing projects. The funds have gone towards building schools, roads and hospitals, among others.
"We'd love to continue what we've been doing and even do more. And the projects are at hand," EIB head, Werner Hoyer, told a news conference, adding he was going to ask EU governments for the guarantees needed to finance more spending on Ukraine this year.
He said much more would be needed to rebuild the country from the war, a task the World Bank last September estimated at $350 billion.
That number has since risen as Russia's invasion turned Ukrainian cities and key civilian infrastructure, including roads and energy supply lines, to rubble.
"That effort has to start today, we cannot wait until one day the ink on a peace treaty is dry," said Hoyer, adding that supporting Ukraine's social and economic fabric now would help the country itself generate revenue for reconstruction.
The EU is also discussing with global partners the potential use of Russian assets frozen under sanctions to rebuild Ukraine, though legal doubts remain. These include an estimated $300 billion of Russian central bank assets.
($1 = 0.9094 euros)
(Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska; Editing by Sharon Singleton)