EU, G7 Pledge More Military Aid To Ukraine As Russia Pounds Infrastructure

The world’s leading economies have pledged to send more military aid to Ukraine to bolster Kyiv’s military capabilities after President Volodymyr Zelenskiy appealed to a meeting of the Group of Seven (G7) for modern tanks, artillery, and long-range weapons.
The G7 promised to “meet Ukraine’s urgent requirements” after Zelenskiy spoke with the leaders of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and the United States in the virtual meeting.
Zelenskiy also urged the G7 to help Kyiv obtain an extra 2 billion cubic meters of natural gas in light of energy shortages as millions in the country are without power in subzero temperatures after further Russian air strikes on critical infrastructure.
Separately, European Union foreign ministers meeting in Brussels agreed on December 12 to put another 2 billion euros ($2.1 billion) into a fund that has been used to pay for military support for Ukraine, after it was largely depleted during almost 10 months of the war.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel, said more top-ups may be possible at a later stage.
“Today’s decision will ensure that we have the funding to continue delivering concrete military support to our partners’ armed forces,” Borrell said in Brussels.
In their monthly meeting, EU foreign ministers also tried to agree on further sanctions on Russia but failed. Negotiations are to continue on December 13.

Heavy fighting continued in eastern Ukraine as Russian forces targeted more civilian and energy infrastructure.
In the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, where Moscow’s forces have been pounding Ukrainian positions with artillery, missiles, and drones, Russians launched two missile strikes on the industrial city of Kostyantynyivka, while in the south they targeted the recently liberated city of Kherson with dozens of rocket salvos, Ukraine’s General Staff said on December 12.
The General Staff said that Russian forces in Luhansk “continue to use civilians as human shields, placing military equipment and setting up firing positions near residential buildings where the civilian population lives.”
A senior U.S. military official said Russia was turning to decades-old ammunition with high failure rates as it draws from its aging ammunition stockpiles.
Some of the older ammunition being used was produced more than 40 years ago, the official said, speaking to reporters on condition of anonymity.
The United States has accused Russia of turning to Iran and North Korea for more ammunition as it exhausts its regular supplies.
Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odesa on December 12 resumed operations suspended after Russia used Iranian-made drones on December 10 to hit two energy facilities. Power is slowly being restored to some 1.5 million people, but the situation remains difficult, national grid operator Ukrenerho said.
On December 11, U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with his Ukrainian counterpart, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, reiterating Washington’s strong support for Kyiv, the White House said.
During his call with Zelenskiy, Biden underscored “ongoing U.S. support for Ukraine’s defense as Russia continues its assaults on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure,” a White House statement said.
Biden “reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to continue providing Ukraine with security, economic, and humanitarian assistance, holding Russia accountable for its war crimes and atrocities, and imposing costs on Russia for its aggression,” the statement said.
The White House highlighted recent U.S. aid packages to Ukraine, including $53 million for Ukraine’s energy infrastructure announced in November and a $275-million package consisting of ammunition and equipment.
On Twitter, Zelenskiy said he thanked Biden for the recent security package in a “fruitful conversation,” adding that they “discussed further defense cooperation, protection, and maintenance of our energy sector.”

But Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal asked for more substantial military aid, appealing for Patriot missile batteries and other high-tech air-defense systems to counter Russian attacks.
Shmyhal on December 12 told French broadcaster LCI that Russia wants to swamp Europe with a new wave of Ukrainian refugees by its targeting of infrastructure in Ukraine.

Copyright (c) 2015. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.

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