Donors Focus Conference on Ukraine’s Infrastructure Needs

France brought together international donors Tuesday for a conference focused on helping Ukraine cope with Russian attacks on the country’s infrastructure.    

The meeting includes government representatives as well as companies and aid agencies with the goal of providing Ukraine with both financing and the equipment it needs to keep infrastructure such as electricity and power working despite the Russian attacks.    

French President Emmanuel Macron said Russia is trying to “plunge the Ukrainian people into despair,” and that the goal of the conference is to help the Ukrainian people “get through this winter.” 

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed the conference by video link and told participants that his country needs electric generators as much as it needs armored vehicles for its troops. 

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said the EU is providing 40 generators to help power hospitals in Ukraine and 800 generators for use at other sites throughout the country. 

Von der Leyen said countries need to do what they can to work together to coordinate, optimize and speed up their support for Ukraine, and that Russia’s war against Ukraine’s economy and basic services demands a “firm response.” 

The conference follows a pledge Monday from the leaders of the Group of Seven nations to meet Ukraine’s urgent requirements for military and defense equipment.    

In a statement released by the White House, the G-7 condemned “Russia’s continuous inhumane and brutal attacks targeting critical infrastructure, in particular energy and water facilities and cities across Ukraine.”      

The statement called these “indiscriminate attacks” a “war crime.” It also condemned those who are “facilitating Putin’s illegal war.”      

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, president of the G-7, committed to rebuilding Ukraine’s financial stability and compared the reconstruction of Ukraine to the Marshall Plan implemented by the U.S. to help Europe rebuild after World War II.   

Meanwhile, Russian forces blasted eastern and southern Ukraine on Monday with missiles, drones and artillery. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal appealed for Patriot missile batteries and other high-tech air defense systems to counter Russian attacks.       

At least eight civilians were wounded Monday in a Russian rocket attack on the town of Hirnyk in the eastern Donetsk Oblast, said Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko.      

Moscow “is continuously terrorizing peaceful Ukrainians,” Kyrylenko added before urging remaining residents to flee Donetsk Oblast. The area has become the epicenter of fierce fighting, and the damaged power infrastructure has left millions without power in subzero temperatures.      

In his nightly address Monday, Zelenskyy said Russia will continue to target Ukraine’s power grid. “Russia still hopes for blackouts. This is the last hope of terrorists,” he said.      

“As long as they have missiles — and Russia still has them — please take seriously all warnings from the Ukrainian military command, from our Air Force and air alarms. At all levels, we must be prepared for any hostile intentions. And we will do everything to get through this winter,” he added.     

Since October, Russia has been targeting Ukraine’s power grid. Zelenskyy says the attacks are war crimes targeting civilian life, while Moscow says they are militarily legitimate.      

According to a Pentagon senior official, Russia will burn through its fully serviceable stocks of ammunition by early 2023. “They have drawn from [Russia’s] aging ammunition stockpile, which does indicate that they are willing to use that older ammunition, some of which was originally produced more than 40 years ago,” the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.      

Jan Egeland, secretary-general of the Norwegian Refugee Council, said Monday he anticipates another wave of hundreds of thousands of refugees from Ukraine in Europe over the winter because of “unlivable” conditions.  

“There will be hundreds of thousands more as the horrific and unlawful bombing of civilian infrastructure makes life unlivable in too many places,” Egeland told Reuters.      

Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters. 

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