Europe Pledges More Aid For Ukrainians Enduring ‘Horrific Start’ To Winter


European leaders are pledging more support for Ukraine, as Russian missile attacks on civilian infrastructure are leaving the country’s population without heat, lights and food in a “horrific start” to the winter, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Friday.

Ukraine officials estimated that around 50% of the country’s energy facilities have been damaged in the recent strikes, The Associated Press reported. The weather forecast across much of Ukraine in the coming days calls for rain and snow and temperatures in the single digits Celsius.

Speaking in Brussels, Stoltenberg said Russian President Vladimir Putin “is failing in Ukraine, and he is responding with more brutality.”

Stoltenberg said NATO will continue to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes. He said the members of the alliance have been “providing unprecedented military support” and other aid for Ukraine.

NATO countries have also been delivering fuel, generators, medical supplies, winter equipment and drone-jamming devices, he said, but added that more will be needed as winter closes in, particularly as Russia continues to target Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly announced a new aid package for Ukraine during his visit to Kyiv Friday.

The package — worth about $60 million, according to Britain — includes radar and other technology to counter the Iran-supplied exploding drones that Russia has used against Ukrainian targets, especially the power grid. The aid comes on top of a delivery of more than 1,000 anti-air missiles that Britain announced earlier in November.

“Words are not enough. Words won’t keep the lights on this winter. Words won’t defend against Russian missiles,” Cleverly said in a tweet about the military aid. He added that “as winter sets in, Russia is continuing to try and break Ukrainian resolve through its brutal attacks on civilians, hospitals, and energy infrastructure.”

France will send 100 high-powered generators to Ukraine to help people get through the winter, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna also announced Friday. She said Russia is “weaponizing” winter and plunging Ukraine’s civilian population into hardship.

Russian forces have zeroed in on Ukraine’s power grid and other critical civilian infrastructure in an apparent effort to hamper Ukraine’s ability to fight and force Kyiv to the negotiating table. Kyiv said the attacks are clearly intended to harm civilians, making them a war crime.

Efforts were still underway in the capital, Kyiv, and other parts of Ukraine to restore electricity and water supplies on Friday, two days after Russian forces unleashed yet another devastating missile barrage, causing Kyiv’s biggest outages since the brutal invasion began nine months ago.

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said Friday that nearly half of Kyiv residents were still without electricity.

“A third of houses in Kyiv already have heating, and specialists continue to restore it,” Klitschko said on Telegram.

Ukraine’s Western allies have denounced the Russian attacks on energy as a “war crime” but Moscow has said it targets only military-linked infrastructure and has blamed Kyiv for the blackouts.

In addition to European aid, the U.N. humanitarian office said the global body and its partners were sending hundreds of generators to Ukraine to help Kyiv in its efforts to keep people warm and maintain essential services, such as health care. The World Health Organization said it is sending generators to hospitals in Ukraine.

U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said Friday he was shocked at the depth of civilian suffering caused by the bombing, amid broader allegations of abuses.

“Millions are being plunged into extreme hardship and appalling conditions of life by these strikes,” Volker Türk said in a statement Friday. “Taken as a whole, this raises serious problems under international humanitarian law, which requires a concrete and direct military advantage for each object attacked.”

On Feb. 24, Russian President Putin ordered a “special military operation” aimed at the “demilitarization and denazification” of Ukraine, a former Soviet republic but an independent nation since 1991. The United States and Western allies have condemned the invasion and provided substantial military and other aid to Kyiv.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty contributed to this report. 


The VOA is the Voice of America

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