BUCHAREST, Romania — The United States is granting Ukraine $53 million to buy much-needed equipment to help repair the power grid damaged by weeks of Russian air strikes, highlighting an urgent new front in the effort. to help Ukraine after its allies provided billions of dollars in military aid.
Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken made the pledge on Tuesday in Romania during the Group of Seven meeting on the sidelines of the Summit. a two-day conference of the foreign ministers of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Top diplomats from more than 30 European countries have traveled to Bucharest to discuss how to best strengthen Ukraine’s defenses against Russian President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion that began in February.
A senior State Department official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic negotiations, said US officials hope the new commitment on electrical equipment will motivate countries to Other countries announced their own infrastructure aid packages for Ukraine, where millions of residents living no electricity and water because of recent Russian drone and missile attacks.
Russian commanders have launched a barrage of missiles and drones against Ukraine’s transmission grid, including high-voltage substations, which are more vulnerable than power plants.
U.S. and European officials say Moscow is trying to dampen the morale of Ukrainians by depriving them of basic amenities like heat and water during the winter, when average temperatures across Ukraine dip below freezing level.
Americans are aiming to assemble a working group to help Ukraine repair energy infrastructure on an emergency basis and better protect power plants and grids from attack. The energy group will be modeled on Ukrainian Defense Contact Grouporganized shipments of weapons and other military aid to Ukraine, a second State Department official said, requesting anonymity to discuss diplomatic talks.
The energy “contact group” will focus on the Group of 7 countries. The first such aid-focused meeting took place in meeting of the group of 7 foreign ministers in early November in Münster, Germany, where officials pledged to help Ukraine rebuild and protect its infrastructure. The next meeting is scheduled to take place next month in Paris.
The US State Department said the $53 million announced Tuesday will be used to purchase a range of critical equipment, including distribution transformers and circuit breakers. A third official said the US government will buy equipment and ship it to Ukraine, focusing first on what can be shipped there fastest. The official said the Biden administration had identified $30 million worth of equipment, including from the Department of Energy’s stockpile.
The department said the $53 million is in addition to the $55 million in emergency energy sector assistance for generators and other equipment that the United States has promised Ukraine.
Ukraine’s leaders say they need more air defense systems from the US and its allies to protect infrastructure and civilian areas from Russian attacks.
Blinken on Tuesday participated in talks with Romanian leaders and attended NATO sessions on the war, then met with officials from the Group of Seven.
“NATO is stronger and more united than at any time that I can remember,” Blinken said in a brief remark to Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s secretary general, ahead of the afternoon meetings. “We will reaffirm our support for Ukraine as we move forward.”
“NATO will continue to support Ukraine for as long as necessary,” Stoltenberg said.