The U.S. is expected to reveal a further financial aid package for Ukraine, which senior officials have described as “substantial” and designed to deal with the damage caused by Russian attacks on energy infrastructure.
That sounds promising, what else do we know?
The full details of the aid will be announced by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on the sidelines of a NATO meeting in the Romanian capital Bucharest on Tuesday Nov. 29, but one senior official told journalists on Monday it is “substantial and it is not the end”, AFP reports.
He did note that the Biden administration had budgeted $1.1 billion for energy spending in Ukraine and Moldova.
What’s it for?
Unlike the massive amounts of military aid that Ukraine’s allies have provided during the course of the year, this money will be used to fix Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.
A Russian campaign of missile strikes has damaged between 25 and 30 percent of the grid, according to figures cited by Kyiv.
“What the Russians have been doing is targeting large transformer stations. They are high-voltage transformer stations, not just power plants,” the U.S. official said, in a move aimed at disrupting the entire energy network from production to distribution.
Compounding the effects of Russia’s attacks, temperatures plummeted across Ukraine last week with snow and just above freezing temperatures during the day.
This week’s temperatures are forecast to drop to minus 4 Celsius overnight so households without gas may struggle to heat their homes if they have no electricity and water supplies continue to be affected.
Will it help?
That depends on how quickly Ukraine receives it. The country’s energy infrastructure has been steadily degraded over the course of October and November in almost weekly mass missile strikes by Russia.
Last week’s attack was particularly damaging, leading to blackouts and water cuts in many parts of the country.
Ukraine is on high alert with another attack expected imminently.
In his daily address on Sunday Nov. 27, President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia will launch another wave of mass-missile attacks “for sure” and urged people to prepare as best they can and look out for the country’s most vulnerable citizens.
“We understand that the terrorists are preparing new strikes,” he said during his address.
“As long as they have missiles, they won’t stop, unfortunately.”
What else will be discussed?
NATO foreign ministers are meeting Tuesday and Wednesday in Bucharest where the alliance’s support for Ukraine since the Russian invasion will be discussed.
Germany, which currently chairs the G7, has convened a meeting Tuesday afternoon on the sidelines of the NATO gathering to discuss the energy crisis caused by the war in Ukraine.
The U.S. will call on the other member countries to strengthen their aid in this area, according to the U.S. official.
It will also be an opportunity to highlight the “remarkable cohesion and unity that is still there among all the allies” since the start of the war, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs Karen Donfried told reporters on Monday.
It comes ahead of an international donors’ conference on support for the Ukrainian civil resistance to be held Dec. 13 in France.
Besides the war in Ukraine, NATO ministers will take stock of progress in the accession of Finland and Sweden, already ratified by 28 of the 30 member countries but which remains suspended awaiting the green light from Turkey and Hungary.
They will also discuss the growing threat posed by China. This discussion, initiated at the NATO summit in June in Madrid, “is not about NATO going to China; it is reflecting the challenges really of the PRC [People’s Republic of China] having come to Europe”, said Donfried, citing the technological challenge in particular.
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