While speaking at the Australian Lowy Institute on Jan. 23, billionaire philanthropist and climate change activist Bill Gates said the Ukrainian government, pre-war, "is one of the worst in the world, corrupt, controlled by a few rich people."
Gates made his remarks while speaking with Lowy Institute Executive Director Michale Fullilove about global challenges.
In the exchange, Fullilove asked Gates for his thoughts about Ukraine. Gates said that the conflict with Russia has shown that President Volodomyr Zelensky has done a good job rallying his countrymen and preventing Russia from taking over the entire country. He added that Putin has seemed to be "weaker and less intelligent" than was expected.
Gates also said, "Ukraine was far stronger in aligning -- pre-war, the Ukrainian government is one of the worst in the world, corrupt, controlled by a few rich people. I mean, really unfortunate for the people in Ukraine."
Gates then went on to discuss the great agricultural land in Ukraine, the "bread basket of Europe, it's an incredible location."
However, because of the war, Ukraine will need to be rebuilt to "come up to East European levels," he said. "It's a country that has a lot of promise."
Gates added, "No one knows how long this war will go on."