Countries rally to help Ukraine through the winter

A woman cooks on a gas burner during a November 14 blackout in Kyiv, Ukraine. Russian military attacks on Ukraine's infrastructure have caused numerous power outages. (© Andrew Kravchenko/AP Images)

More than 70 countries and institutions have pledged over 1 billion euros to help Ukrainians through the winter amid the Kremlin’s ongoing military attacks on civilian infrastructure, including the electricity grid.

The funding was announced during the “Standing with the Ukrainian People” conference in Paris December 13. It will support Ukraine’s infrastructure and improve access to electricity, home heating, water, food, health care and transportation during the winter.

“The entire civilised world has come to support Ukrainians fighting for freedom and their own future,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said in a December 13 tweet, thanking French President Emmanuel Macron for hosting the conference.

Since October, Russia’s military has repeatedly attacked Ukraine’s power grid, causing widespread power outages as the country braces for freezing winter conditions.

The U.S. government announced in late November $53 million in equipment to repair Ukraine’s electricity grid, part of which was delivered this week, in addition to $55 million in energy sector humanitarian support for heating and emergency power. The U.S. State Department has also been leading a coordination effort with Group of Seven (G7) and other key allies and partners to identify compatible equipment that can be provided quickly.

Since President Vladimir Putin’s full-scale February 24 invasion, the United States has provided over $32 billion in total assistance to Ukraine, including $145 million to help repair, maintain and strengthen Ukraine’s power sector.

Russia’s military “has chosen a cynical strategy, aiming to destroy civilian infrastructure in order to put Ukraine on its knees,” Macron said at the conference, denouncing the ongoing bombing of civilian infrastructure as war crimes.

Among the pledges of assistance to Ukraine:

  • 125 million euros from France for energy, water, food, health and transportation.
  • $115 million from Canada.
  • 30 million euros from the European Union to purchase up to 30 million energy-saving light bulbs.
  • 40 new large generators from the European Union to provide uninterrupted power to 30 hospitals.

Woman climbing dark stairs with hand-held light source (© Andrew Kravchenko/AP Images)
International partners are providing assistance for Ukraine’s power grid, which has been damaged by Russia’s military. Above, a woman climbs stairs to her 21st-floor apartment during a power outage in Kyiv, Ukraine, November 20. (© Andrew Kravchenko/AP Images)

Leaders from the G7 announced plans December 12 to form a partnership to coordinate support for Ukraine, including international funding and expertise for private sector led development.

“We are determined to help Ukraine repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure,” the G7 nations of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States said in a statement. “We will help Ukraine in meeting its winter preparedness needs.”