Shevchenko’s job as head of the central bank, a post he has held since 2020, has gone far beyond the usual manipulation of interest rates and regulation of the financial industry.
He says his main wartime task is “to maintain financial stability and ensure the proper functioning of critical infrastructure,” but he is also part of kyiv’s efforts to pressure the West to act.
“To move closer to victory, we are also working hard on the financial front as we call on multinational companies and institutions to impose sanctions on Russia and its ally Belarus.”
While Ukraine has faced numerous economic challenges in recent years – the loss of Crimea, the struggle in the industrial-heavy Donbas, the collapse of the hryvnia, its currency, an IMF bailout, and Covid – none have proven so crippling. like Putin’s war.
After the “shock” of the first days of the war, Shevchenko says the Ukrainian economy began to “adapt to operating under martial law.”
Understandably, consumer demand has shifted toward goods needed for defense, medical supplies, energy, and basic items. The need to import is also likely to increase as output at the Ukrainian factory has been affected and stocks have run out, he adds.
“Russian military aggression against Ukraine disrupted many production and supply chains, [and] it caused economic activity and private consumption to decline,” says Shevchenko.
“It is very difficult to make any assessment as Russia continues to attack our country.”
What remains of the Ukrainian economy when Putin ends is still uncertain and depends on the duration of the conflict and the scale of the destruction. Workers who fled may return home, but much of the country’s productive capacity to combat hotspots may have been destroyed, taking years to rebuild.
“We realize that everything will depend primarily on how and when this war for Ukraine ends. If we win early, protect our territory and strengthen our ties with the EU, we will be able to recover our economy in a timely manner.”
‘Defending the foundations of democracy’
kyiv not only needs weapons to fight Putin, but also funding, both during the war and during the recovery. Shevchenko says Ukraine will need “massive assistance” to finance its revival, but hopes to “restore our country’s economic potential quickly” if enough aid arrives.
“International support is also very helpful in maintaining our financial defense,” he says, estimating that aid has exceeded $20 billion so far.
He urges people to donate to his army and humanitarian causes, saying: “Ukraine is defending not only its own independence, but also the foundations of democracy itself.”
Shevchenko, 49, was born in Tula, in the Soviet Union, now part of Russia. She worked in a mine before going to university in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city and an area devastated by Russian bombing, before embarking on a career in finance.
After serving as Chairman of Ukrgasbank, he became Governor of NBU in July 2020 as the economy grappled with Covid restrictions.
While Ukraine is expected to suffer a sharp contraction, the wave of Western measures and self-sanctioning of companies is also expected to cause huge GDP losses in Russia.
Increasing pressure on Russian businesses and households is expected to persuade the Kremlin to abandon a war in which it has struggled to make a profit.
Shevchenko wants the West and its companies to go even further in striking blows at the heart of the Russian economy, even if they hurt themselves.
“I understand that it means huge financial losses,” he says. “However, to work further in Russia is to come to terms with your conscience, which nothing can justify.
“Today, cash flows into or out of Russia are ‘blood money’ financing the murder of Ukrainian civilians and the ruthless destruction of Ukraine.”