NATO says Russia using winter as a weapon in Ukraine war

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Ukraine prepares for more Russian attacks against energy and other key infrastructure as Western officials pledge to boost support.

Rubble of a destroyed storage building at a grain processing centre in Siversk, Donetsk region, Ukraine, November 28 [Leah Millis/Reuters]

Ukraine has prepared for more Russian attacks against energy and other critical infrastructure on Monday in what appears to be a weekly pattern, and warned of possible evacuations from the capital.

Estonia’s foreign minister joined counterparts from six Baltic and Nordic nations — in the largest delegation to visit Ukraine since Russia launched its full-scale war — to pledge electric generators, warm clothes and food. The goal is to help Ukrainians cope with their coldest months of need and keep their resolve high.

Energy security, and it is truly shameful,” Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in Kyiv.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned late Sunday that Russian troops “are preparing new strikes, and as long as they have missiles, they won’t stop.” He met Monday with senior government officials to discuss what actions to take.

“The upcoming week can be as hard as the one that passed,” he predicted.
Russia has been carrying out massive missile bombardments on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure roughly weekly since early October, with each barrage having a greater effect than the last as damage accumulates and a frigid winter sets in.

Kyiv says the attacks, which Russia acknowledges target Ukrainian infrastructure, are intended to harm civilians, making them a war crime. Moscow denies its intent is to hurt civilians but said last week their suffering would not end unless Ukraine yielded to Russia’s demands, without spelling them out.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg insisted Russian President Vladimir Putin was intent on using frost, snow and ice to his advantage, not just on the battleground but against Ukrainian civilians.

“President Putin is now trying to use the winter as a weapon of war against Ukraine, and this is horrific and we need to be prepared for more attacks,” he said on the eve of a two-day meeting of NATO foreign ministers in Bucharest, Romania. “That’s the reason why NATO’s allies have stepped up their support to Ukraine.”

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said some of the city’s 3 million people might have to be evacuated to where essential services would be less prone to shutdowns caused by missile attacks.

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