NATO Pledges More Support For Ukraine As Stoltenberg Accuses Russia Of Using Cold Weather As A Weapon
By RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service November 29, 2022
NATO allies pledged to help Ukraine repair energy infrastructure that has been heavily damaged by Russian attacks after Ukraine urged its Western partners to supply it with specific electrical transmission equipment to rebuild its power grid.
NATO vowed to "further step up" support to Ukraine, including by providing equipment to help repair the country's energy infrastructure, as NATO foreign ministers met on November 29 in Bucharest. A declaration from the ministers also condemned Russia's "persistent and unconscionable attacks" that are "depriving millions of Ukrainians of basic human services."
Russia has been attacking Ukraine's electricity transmission and heating infrastructure since October in what Kyiv and its allies say is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians.
The shelling of electrical infrastructure amounted to Russia using the cold weather as "a weapon of war," NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine needed equipment to restore the electricity to citizens who have been left in the cold and dark by outages caused by the damage.
"If we have transformers and generators, we can restore our energy needs," Kuleba said, speaking to reporters in Bucharest on the sidelines of the NATO meeting. "If we have air-defense systems, we can protect from the next Russian missile strikes. In a nutshell: Patriots and transformers is what Ukraine needs the most."
The United States said it would give $53 million to support the purchase of power-grid equipment that will be delivered "on an emergency basis to help Ukrainians persevere through the winter." A State Department statement said the package would include distribution transformers, circuit breakers, surge arresters, and other equipment.
The German government said it would provide 350 generators to Ukraine. Berlin so far has provided short-term financial assistance for energy infrastructure repairs amounting to 56 million euros ($57.8 million), the German government said after a phone call between Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy and Chancellor Olaf Scholz.
Lithuania's foreign minister said NATO powers must take the political decision to send modern battle tanks to Ukraine to give them a military edge during the winter months.
"I've talked to a number of military experts and the answer I'm hearing is that if we provided tanks by this winter -- let's say January -- it could make a difference," Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters during the NATO gathering.
Russian shelling of civilian and infrastructure targets across Ukraine continues along with fighting in the east, Ukrainian military and regional officials said earlier on November 29.
Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address that the situation at the front line remains difficult, with Russian forces attempting to advance in the Donbas region and Kharkiv.
"Despite extremely large losses, the occupiers are still trying to advance on the Donetsk region, gain a foothold in Luhansk region, move into Kharkiv region, they are planning something in the south," Zelenskiy said.
The central city of Dnipro was the target of an overnight Russian rocket attack, said Valentyn Reznichenko, the governor of the Dnipropetrovsk regional military administration.
"The Russian occupying forces shelled the Nikopol district with Uragan rockets and heavy artillery," Reznichenko wrote on Telegram.
"Manufacturing facilities were destroyed. A fire broke out," Reznichenko said, adding that there were no immediate reports of injuries. He did not disclose the identity of the enterprise.
Dnipro has been frequently targeted by Russian missiles and other longer-range weapons. Reznichenko said on November 27 that at least 13 people were wounded in a Russian rocket attack.
The Russian Defense Ministry said its troops were continuing their assault on Ukrainian forces dug in along the front in the Donetsk region. The town of Andriyivka was among those mentioned by the ministry as having been attacked from the air.
The report matched similar statements from the Ukrainian General Staff, which referred to massive Russian troop concentrations along the front in this area. It said the Ukrainian military repelled Russian attacks near 10 settlements, including the key targets of Bakhmut and Avdiyivka.
In Ukraine's northeastern Kharkiv region around Kupyansk and Lyman, Russian troops were resisting Ukrainian attacks, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The Ukrainian military said Russia bombarded areas around the towns, which were recently recaptured by Kyiv.
In the southern Kherson region, the Russian military attacked a hospital in the city of Kherson, the president's office said on November 29. There were no casualties, but windows were broken in the building, according to Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of Ukraine's presidential administration.
The United Nations said the situation in Kherson and Mykolayiv remains "dire" and "critical." Nearly a quarter of a million people in Mykolayiv face a lack of heat, water, and power.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said that Humanitarian Coordinator Denise Brown visited the two southern cities over the weekend.
In Kyiv, snow fell and temperatures were hovering around freezing as millions in and around the capital struggled to heat their homes.
Officials said Christmas trees would be erected in Kyiv without lights in a defiant display of holiday spirit.
"We cannot allow [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to steal our Christmas," Mayor Vitali Klitschko told the RBC-Ukraine news agency in an interview.
With reporting by Reuters, dpa, and CNN
Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|