Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Wednesday from the NATO summit in Bucharest that the US and its allies have agreed to form a group to help repair Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, which has been decimated by Russian missile and drone strikes.
The State Department announced Tuesday that it would provide Ukraine with $53 million in aid for power grid repairs as Russian strikes have left millions of Ukrainians without power, water, and heat.
Ukrainian civilians are facing a dire situation as Ukrainian energy providers are warning there will likely be rolling blackouts in the country until March. Ukrainian officials have said Russian strikes have damaged about half of the country’s energy infrastructure.
The US has been leading meetings on military aid for Ukraine, known as the Ukraine Defense Contact Group. According to The New York Times, the US is looking to set up a similar group to rally countries to give Ukraine more assistance to help repair energy infrastructure.
Blinken met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on the sidelines of the NATO summit. Kuleba said that he thanked the US for its effort to help repair the grid, which will focus on transformers, circuit breakers, and surge arresters.
While looking to help Ukraine repair its power grid, the US and NATO are pursuing policies that will make Russian strikes on energy infrastructure more likely.
NATO members have encouraged attacks on Crimea and back Ukraine’s goal of retaking the peninsula, which Russia has controlled since 2014. Russia didn’t start large-scale attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure until October, after the truck bombing of the Kerch Bridge, which connects Crimea to the Russian mainland.