Pledges amounting to about 1 billion euros ($1.05 billion) piled up at Tuesday’s international donor conference for Ukraine in Paris as backers work to help the country weather Russian attacks and the bitter cold.
This mainly involved pledges of material aid to restore energy and water supplies, for transport and health care, as well as for the food sector, said French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna.
“We are directly impacting the lives of millions of people with this help,” he said.
Of the total, €415 million was provided to maintain Ukraine’s energy supply.
Emergency aid to help Ukraine through the winter has included generators, transformers, building materials and fire engines. France has also pledged medical supplies, school buses and demining assistance, among other things.
The conference complemented efforts to provide long-term support to Ukraine, for which EU states have just pledged €18 billion in loans.
French President Emmanuel Macron underlined the international community’s determination to support Ukraine at the conference.
“The immediate task is to help the Ukrainian people through the winter,” Macron said.
About 70 countries, international organizations and the European Union participated in the conference. The aim was to coordinate emergency aid in the fields of energy, transport, agriculture, water and health.
“This is a sign that Ukraine is not alone,” Macron added.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who joined the conference via video link, thanked the international community in his daily video address released on Tuesday.
“Every day we draw new strength for Ukraine to get through this winter, and I thank everyone who is working to help our state,” he said.
The EU has sent 40 large generators to Ukraine to power the country’s hospitals, according to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, to “guarantee power to 30 hospitals in Donetsk, Dnipropetrovsk, Zaporizhzhya, Mykolayiv and Kherson”.
This adds to the 800 generators sent to Ukraine since Russia invaded, von der Leyen told the conference.
Von der Leyen also announced the establishment of a coordination platform under the auspices of the EU, which will allow for the rapid transmission of aid to Ukraine.
To this end, a transhipment warehouse will be set up in Poland this week, from where aid supplies are to be transported to the affected regions of Ukraine.
Zelensky meanwhile told the conference that all power plants in his country had been damaged or destroyed by the Russians.
Millions of people are without electricity, he said. “Imagine this for your countries.”
Quick help could prevent a massive wave of migration to other European countries, he added.
“Generators have become as important as armored vehicles and protective vests.” They made it possible to keep hospitals and businesses running and set up tents where people could keep warm and recharge their cell phones, she said.
Zelensky also expects more attacks on the energy grid.
According to Ukrainian military intelligence, Russia has an arsenal capable of at least five waves of attacks, spokesman Vadim Skibizki said.
After the conference, a separate meeting laid the foundations for the participation of French companies in the reconstruction of Ukraine. Around 700 French companies have shown interest in these talks.
“Ukrainian government officials have offered French companies to invest in Ukraine, even now, while the war is still going on, as well as after our victory,” Zelensky said after the meeting. “We also talked about what we could do to strengthen our state at a European level.”
Zelensky said he was grateful to all French citizens for their support to Ukraine – not only politically, not only in terms of defense and sanctions, which was of great importance – but also for the fact “that we equally perceive the need to protect the value of human life, human dignity and the humanitarian opportunities that the modern world offers to all”.
Meanwhile, Lithuania has requested that modern tanks be sent to Kiev.
To better support Ukraine in repelling a Russian invasion that has been underway since February, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis has called on Germany and other allies to supply modern weapons systems.
Ukraine has been demanding the delivery of Leopard tanks from Germany for months. So far, however, the German government has shown no sign of abating on the issue.
“Soviet-type weapons are running out not only in Ukraine, but also everywhere. Such weapons and ammunition are no longer being produced, or only in very small quantities,” Landsbergis said in Vilnius on Tuesday, according to the SNB news agency.
Ukraine could therefore even face an “ammunition shortage,” he said.
“The best new types of weapons that could be delivered now are Western tanks,” Landsbergis said, noting that because tanks use standardized ammunition, one country could supply tanks while another supplies ammunition.
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