BUCHAREST (Reuters) – Ukraine on Tuesday urged NATO members to speed up arms deliveries and help restore its shattered power grid, as Western allies pledged to boost support to help Kyiv during winter in the face of attacks from Russia.
Moscow has unleashed waves of strikes against Ukraine’s energy infrastructure as its troops are driven to the ground, plunging millions into darkness.
Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba called for deliveries of weapons, especially advanced air defense systems, to be ‘faster and faster’ as he attended a two-day meeting NATO Foreign Ministers in Bucharest, the Romanian capital.
“When we have transformers and generators, we can restore our system, our energy network and provide people with decent living conditions,” Kuleba said.
“When we have air defense systems, we can protect this infrastructure from the next Russian missile strikes.”
“In a nutshell, the Patriots and the Transformers are what Ukraine needs the most,” he said, referring to the US-made Patriot missile defense system.
The call came as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of targeting infrastructure in a bid to use winter as “a weapon of war” against Ukraine.
Stoltenberg said NATO allies had pledged more support for Ukraine to repair its infrastructure and would continue to send weapons and air defenses to help it better protect itself.
He said there was an “ongoing discussion” about providing the Patriot systems that Washington and others have so far refused to give Kyiv.
“NATO is not a party to the war. But we will continue to support Ukraine. As long as it takes, we will not back down,” Stoltenberg said.
He said he expected Russia to carry out more attacks on the Ukrainian network as the Kremlin suffered defeats on the ground and warned that Europe should “prepare for more refugees”.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced a $53 million envelope “to support the acquisition of critical power grid equipment” by Kyiv.
A senior US official said the aid would not be the last and pointed out that the Biden administration had earmarked $1.1 billion for energy spending in Ukraine and neighboring Moldova.
The Allies have given billions of dollars in arms to Ukraine, but Kyiv is pushing for more air defence, tanks and longer-range missiles to fend off Kremlin forces.
But there are growing fears that some NATO countries’ arms stores may be depleted as stocks have been diverted to Ukraine.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said his request to other NATO ministers was simple: “Keep calm and give tanks.”
Germany, which currently chairs the G7, called a meeting on the sidelines of the NATO gathering to discuss the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said participants sought to “better understand and prioritize the most pressing needs” ahead of an international conference in Paris on December 13.
In addition, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and said Germany would send 350 generators and provide financial aid to repair energy infrastructure worth 56 million euros ($57 million).
Zelensky said they discussed cooperation, both bilaterally and in international institutions.
“The priorities are clear – protection against missile terror, energy restoration, food security,” Zelensky said in his daily video address Tuesday evening, noting that “the situation at the front is difficult.”
“Despite extremely heavy Russian losses, the occupiers are still trying to advance in the Donetsk region, to gain a foothold in the Luhansk region, to move to the Kharkiv region, they are planning something in the south,” he said. he declared.
“But we’re holding on.”
NATO said the Bucharest meeting showed its unity in continuing to support Ukraine as Moscow’s war against its neighbor drags on into its 10th month.
The alliance, however, has made no progress on Ukraine’s application for membership, although it has reiterated that it remains committed to its promise made some 14 years ago that Kyiv would one day become a member.
Stoltenberg insisted that “the door is open” to new members, but said the focus was now on helping Ukraine in its fight against Moscow.
Oleksiy Arestovych, assistant to the Ukrainian president, said “several concrete and important announcements were made” during the summit.
“Ukraine will be able to become a member of the alliance after the end of hostilities” and “support for Ukraine will be expanded in energy and military terms”, he noted in a press release.
In addition to the war in Ukraine, the ministers will take stock of the progress made in the accession of NATO candidates Finland and Sweden, already ratified by 28 of the 30 member countries but which remains suspended pending the green light from the Hungary and Turkey.
The Finnish, Swedish and Turkish foreign ministers met on the sidelines of the meeting, but Ankara did not report any progress.

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