War in Ukraine: what to remember on the 279th day of the Russian invasion

Europe 1 with AFP
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11:30 p.m., November 29, 2022


Ukraine on Tuesday called on NATO member countries meeting in Bucharest to speed up the delivery of weapons and electrical equipment to help the country ravaged by more than nine months of war to cope with the damage caused to its energy infrastructure by Russian bombing. “Last time I said three words: weapons, weapons, weapons. This time I have three more words: faster, faster and faster,” said the Ukrainian Foreign Minister, Dmytro Kouleba, shortly before a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

What are Ukraine’s most pressing needs? Patriot air defense generators and missiles, he hammered.

Information to remember:

  • US announces financial aid to support Ukraine’s energy infrastructure
  • Ukraine calls on NATO to speed up delivery of weapons and equipment
  • Emmanuel Macron goes to Washington to discuss the conflict with Joe Biden

Winter as a Russian “weapon of war” according to NATO

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to use winter as “a weapon of war” against Ukraine with “deliberate attacks” against civilian infrastructure to deprive the country of heat, electricity and water, had denounced in the day the Secretary General of the Atlantic Alliance by hosting this two-day meeting of the heads of NATO diplomacy in the huge palace that houses the Romanian parliament.

The Kremlin’s goal is “to inflict as much pain as possible on Ukrainian civilians to try to break their commitment, their unity in the fight against the Russian invasion”, he continued. A meeting of the enlarged G7, held under the German presidency on the sidelines of NATO, pleaded for mobilization in the face of the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.

US provides $53 million in aid to Ukraine

Arrived Monday evening in Bucharest, the American Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced financial assistance of 53 million dollars, which is added to another envelope of 55 million already released for the purchase of generators, in order to come to the aid to Ukraine. This sum will be used to buy electrical equipment (including transformers), which will be “quickly” delivered to Ukraine, an American source said.

In total, the Biden administration has budgeted $1.1 billion for energy in Ukraine and Moldova. The American aid is part of the prospect of an international conference of donors in “support for the Ukrainian civil resistance”, which will be held on December 13 in France.

A Russian campaign of massive strikes targeting energy infrastructure

Russia embarked on a campaign of massive missile strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in early October. According to figures cited by the Ukrainian government, between 25 and 30% of this infrastructure was damaged. “What the Russians are doing is specifically targeting high-voltage transformer stations,” not just the power plants themselves, in order to disrupt the entire energy chain, from generation to distribution, explained a American official.

For the NATO chief, who reiterated the alliance’s “open door” policy towards Ukraine, “the message from all of us will be that we need to do more” to help kyiv, including in matters of air defence. “Russia is failing on the battlefield. In response, they go after civilian targets, cities because they cannot gain territory,” he added. “This tactic of targeting civilian infrastructure, energy, is obviously designed to try to get the Ukrainians to submit by freezing them,” said British Minister James Cleverly. “I don’t think it will succeed,” he said.

Progress report on the accession of Finland and Sweden to NATO

But concern is growing that these efforts can be sustained over the long term as supplies begin to run low. “Let’s keep calm and send tanks,” said Lithuanian Gabrielius Landsbergis. Germany has announced the upcoming supply of “more than 350 generators” to kyiv. The EU, for its part, has asked to activate the civil protection mechanism to deliver some 500 generators to Ukraine as well as 2,000 tents adapted to winter conditions, the result of cooperation between 17 Member States.

France has contributed for its part via 100 generators arrived at the European hub of Suceava, in Romania, which will soon be handed over to Ukraine, a French source said. Romania, as well as neighboring Moldova, has been hard hit by the war in Ukraine and more than 2 million people have passed through there fleeing this country. Bucharest currently hosts nearly 86,000 refugees.

In addition to the war in Ukraine, the NATO ministers made a progress report on the accession of Finland and Sweden to the organization, already ratified by 28 of the 30 member countries but which remains suspended on the green light from Turkey and Hungary. The Finnish, Swedish and Turkish ministers met on Tuesday in Bucharest, on the sidelines of the meeting, but without any notable conclusion, the Turkish Mevlut Cavusoglu contenting himself in a tweet with ensuring that he had expressed Ankara’s “expectations”. Turkey has been blocking the entry of the two Nordic countries into the Atlantic Alliance since May, linking their membership to their fight against Kurdish movements and their supporters on their soil.

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