War in Ukraine: NATO countries promise to help kyiv brave winter

NATO member countries meeting in Bucharest on Tuesday are mobilizing to help Ukraine get through the winter, with the expected announcement of a « substantial » financial contribution from Washington to deal with the damage caused by Russia on the kyiv energy infrastructure.

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to use winter as « a weapon of war » against Ukraine with « deliberate attacks » on civilian infrastructure to deprive the country of heat, electricity and water, denounced the secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance, Jens Stoltenberg.

The Kremlin’s objective is « to inflict as much suffering as possible on Ukrainian civilians to try to break their commitment, their unity in the fight against the Russian invasion », he continued, during a meeting of NATO foreign ministers in the Romanian capital, where their Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba will also be present.

Germany, which chairs the G7, for its part convened a meeting on the sidelines of NATO on Tuesday afternoon on the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine, during which the United States will call on other countries to increase their assistance in this area.

Arrived Monday evening in Bucharest, the American Secretary of State Antony Blinken was to announce at the end of the day a “substantial” financial aid to Ukraine in the field of energy, according to senior American officials.

This aid « will be substantial and it is not over, » one of the senior officials told reporters, speaking on condition of anonymity, refusing to give more details or the precise amount. However, he recalled that the Biden administration had budgeted $1.1 billion for energy in Ukraine and Moldova.

The American aid is part of the prospect of an international conference of donors in « support for the Ukrainian civil resistance », which will be held on December 13 in France.

« Let’s send tanks »

Russia embarked on a campaign of massive missile strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in early October. According to figures cited by the Ukrainian government, between 25 and 30% of this infrastructure was damaged.

« What the Russians are doing is specifically targeting high-voltage transformer stations, » not just the power plants themselves, in order to disrupt the entire energy chain, from generation to distribution, explained the American official.

For the head of NATO, “the message from all of us will be that we need to do more” to help kyiv, including in terms of air defense.

“Russia is failing on the battlefield. In response, they go after civilian targets, cities because they cannot gain territory,” he added.

“This tactic of targeting civilian infrastructure, energy, is obviously designed to try to get the Ukrainians to submit by freezing them,” British Minister James Cleverly said. « I don’t think it will succeed. »

But concern is growing that these efforts can be sustained over the long term as supplies begin to run low.

« Let’s keep calm and send tanks, » said Lithuanian Gabrielius Landsbergis.

The European Union, for its part, has asked to activate the civil protection mechanism, delivering through this mechanism some 500 generators to Ukraine, as well as 2,000 tents adapted to winter conditions, the result of cooperation between 17 Member States.

France has contributed for its part via 100 generators arrived at the European hub of Suceava, in Romania, which will soon be handed over to Ukraine, a French source said.

Romania, as well as neighboring Moldova, has been hard hit by the war in Ukraine and more than 2 million people have passed through there fleeing this country. Bucharest currently hosts nearly 86,000 refugees.

In addition to the war in Ukraine, NATO ministers will take stock of Finland’s and Sweden’s accession to the organisation, which has already been ratified by 28 of the 30 member countries but which remains suspended on the green light from Turkey and Hungary.

The Finnish, Swedish and Turkish ministers were to meet on the sidelines of the meeting on Tuesday, but Ankara has dampened hopes of a quick outcome.

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