Ukraine’s Western allies pledged an additional one billion euros ($1.1 billion) in emergency winter aid on Tuesday, responding to pleas from President Volodymyr Zelensky to help the country withstand Russia’s onslaught against its energy grid.
Around 70 countries and international organisations gathered in Paris for a meeting aimed at enabling Ukrainians “to get through this winter”, said French President Emmanuel Macron.
In a video message, Zelensky said Ukraine needed assistance worth around 800 million euros in the short term for its battered energy sector.
“Of course it is a very high amount, but the cost is less than the cost of a potential blackout,” Zelensky told the conference via video link.
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Pledges for the energy sector comprised 400 million euros of the funds raised on Tuesday, France’s Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna said.
Ukraine needs spare parts for repairs, high-capacity generators, extra gas as well as increased electricity imports, Zelensky said.
“Generators have become as necessary as armoured vehicles and bullet-proof jackets,” he said.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said 40 to 50 percent of the country’s grid was out of action because of Russia’s strikes.
Many areas of the country have power for only a few hours a day.
Another 1.5 million people were left without power in southern Odessa over the weekend after Russian drone attacks.
“They want to put us into darkness and it will fail, thanks to our partners all over the world,” Shmygal told delegates.