Ukraine secures €1 billion in aid to ‘get through the winter’

Ukraine’s Western allies on Tuesday pledged an additional €1 billion ($1.1 billion) in emergency winter aid in response to President Volodymyr Zelensky’s plea to help the country withstand the onslaught on Russia’s energy grid. did.

French President Emmanuel Macron said some 70 countries and international organizations had gathered in Paris for a conference aimed at helping Ukrainians “get through this winter.”

In a video message, Mr Zelensky said Ukraine needed aid worth about 800 million euros in the short term for its battered energy sector.

“Of course it’s very expensive, but the cost is lower than the cost of a potential blackout,” Zelensky said at the conference via video link.

French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said pledges to the energy sector made up 400 million euros in funds raised on Tuesday.

Zelensky said Ukraine needs spare parts for repairs, large-capacity generators, additional gas and increased electricity imports.

“Generators have become as necessary as armored vehicles and bulletproof vests,” he said.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmigal said 40-50% of the country’s power grid was out of action due to the Russian strike.

Many parts of the country have electricity for only a few hours a day.

An additional 1.5 million people were without power over the weekend in southern Odessa after the Russian drone strike.

“They want to keep us in the dark, but they’re going to fail thanks to our partners around the world,” Shmygal told the delegation.

– Bridge Attack –

On Tuesday’s battlefield, local officials in the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol said pro-Kyiv forces used explosives to damage a strategic bridge.

Melitopol is an important shipping hub for Russian troops in the Zaporizhia region and key to Ukraine’s hopes of liberating the southern part of the country.

A bridge in the eastern suburbs was “damaged by terrorists,” Vladimir Rogov, a local authority in Moscow, said on Telegram’s messaging app.

He didn’t specify the extent of the damage, but images on his social media accounts showed that the middle section of the bridge had collapsed.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Belarus conducted a surprise inspection of its troops, raising concerns that the conflict could escalate.

Belarus is a close ally of Moscow, but Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko has repeatedly said he has no plans to send Belarusian troops to Ukraine.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Shmigar said on Tuesday that the UN’s nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA, had agreed to send a permanent team to monitor the country’s nuclear power plants.

They are expected to take up positions at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia factory, a fighting hotspot that has become a source of global concern in recent months.

Despite international diplomatic efforts, a deal to demilitarize the site, which would result in both sides withdrawing their troops, has so far proven impossible.

– “War Crimes” –

Tuesday’s meeting in Paris entitled “Standing with the People of Ukraine” also saw the launch of a new so-called Paris Mechanism to coordinate civilian aid to Ukraine.

A digital platform unveiled by G7 leaders on Monday will allow Ukraine to list requirements and allow international donors to coordinate responses in real time.

“Many countries will use this mechanism. All member states are members of the European Union, but it also extends to other partners, including non-European partners,” Colonna told reporters. Told.

A similar military aid platform exists and is coordinated through a meeting of Ukraine’s Western allies at the US-run Ramstein military base in Germany.

President Macron hosted Tuesday’s meeting with Zelensky’s wife Olena, giving the French leader a chance to reaffirm its support for Kyiv.

He accused Russia of “cynical” and “cowardly” attacks on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

In his opening remarks, President Macron said, “These airstrikes … openly admitted by Russia and designed to break the resistance of the Ukrainian people, are war crimes.”

“They are definitely violating the most basic principles of humanitarian law,” he said.

“These acts are intolerable and will not be punished.”

The French president has angered some of his allies in Kyiv in the past, most notably saying in June that “Russia must not be humiliated.”

On December 3, he also called on Russia to provide “guarantees of security” at the end of the war, from Ukrainian and Eastern European politicians who believe the focus should be on pushing back Russian forces militarily. garnered criticism.

– Demining –

In a video address to New Zealand’s parliament on Wednesday, Zelensky appealed to Wellington for its long-term help in clearing landmines in war-torn Ukraine.

“Currently, 174,000 square kilometers (67,000 square miles) of Ukrainian territory are contaminated with landmines and unexploded ordnance,” Zelensky said, adding that the Russian invasion almost a year ago was an “ecocide” with lasting consequences. said there is.

“There is no real peace for a child who could die from a hidden Russian anti-personnel mine.”

In Russia, the Kremlin has announced that Putin will not hold his annual year-end press conference this year.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov did not give a reason why Putin would not hold the event, which he has held almost every year since he came to power in 2000. Ukraine secures €1 billion in aid to ‘get through the winter’

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