The World Bank’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The World Bank predicts that the Ukrainian economy is going to contract eight times more than that of Russia amid Moscow’s ongoing military operation in the ex-Soviet republic.

The Washington-based institution said Tuesday the Ukrainian economy would shrink by 35% this year, compared with a 4.5% fall in Russia’s gross domestic product.

Moscow launched the “special military operation” in February to defend the eastern Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk’s pro-Russian population against persecution by Kiev.

Back in 2014, the republics broke away from Ukraine, refusing to recognize a Western-backed Ukrainian government there that had overthrown a democratically-elected Russia-friendly administration.

The conflict has damaged Ukraine’s productive capacity, the World Bank said.

Ukraine’s Western allies have, meanwhile, been pumping Kiev full of weapons, despite Russia’s warning that the sustained flow of arms only prolongs the conflict.

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According to the bank, the conflict has incurred Ukraine losses running up to a minimum of $349 billion. The country was already the poorest in Europe even before the onset of the conflict.

“Ukraine continues to need enormous financial support…,” said Anna Bjerde, World Bank vice-president for the Europe and Central Asia regions.

The West has also been piling up sanctions on Russia over the military operation.

Earlier estimates had suggested that Moscow faced a bigger economic challenge this year. The World Bank, however, said the impact of the sanctions had so far been less severe than previously expected, saying soaring energy prices had helped buoy up the Russian economy.

“The sanctions imposed on Russia following its war in Ukraine are having significant adverse economic impacts, albeit less severe in the short term than first expected,” it said.

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