World Leaders Pledge Hundreds of Millions in Aid for Ukraine: Live Updates

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Credit…Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

PARIS — In the latest attempt to buoy Ukraine through what is already a brutal and dark winter, international leaders have announced the immediate delivery of hundreds of millions of dollars to repair electricity supplies, water systems, roads and health centers pummeled by Russian strikes.

“It’s tangible proof Ukraine is not alone,” President Emmanuel Macron of France said on Tuesday at the opening of a one-day summit in Paris. He was flanked by Denys Shmyhal, Ukraine’s prime minister, and Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady. Leaders and diplomats from about 50 countries also attended.

“The fight you are waging is a fight for your freedom, your sovereignty,” Mr. Macon said. “But it is also a fight for the international order and for the stability of all of us.”

President Volodymyr Zelensky, speaking from Ukraine via video feed, said that reversing the extensive damage to his country’s energy infrastructure would cost about 800 million euros ($840 million). He pleaded with the international community to help with immediate investments, warning that Russia was likely to “intensify its attacks” during the winter. And as he repeated calls for Ukraine’s allies to provide more air defense weapons, on top of financial aid, he tried to appeal to their own domestic concerns.

“If you help us,” Mr. Zelensky said, “that can stop a huge wave of new refugees coming into your countries.”

Credit…Pool photo by Teresa Suarez

Since the Russian invasion in February, millions of Ukrainians have poured out into neighboring countries that are also contending with record rates of inflation caused in part by the war.

Officials gathered at the Paris meeting pledged to support Ukraine for the long haul, and reiterated that Russia’s attacks on civilian infrastructure amounted to war crimes.

​​“I’m not the biggest at the table,” said Prime Minister Xavier Bettel of Luxembourg, committing €4 million in immediate aid. “But you can count on us. We are with you.”

The Swiss Parliament approved the immediate disbursal of 100 million Swiss Francs ($107 million), said President Ignazio Cassis of Switzerland, and Mr. Macron committed €76.5 million in immediate assistance from France, in addition to €48.5 million already pledged.

The French leader also announced the creation of the “Paris mechanism” — a platform designed to ensure that donors coordinate urgent deliveries and match them to urgent Ukrainian needs. Hubs of warehouses in Poland and several other countries will collect international donations, including generators and heat pumps, that can be swiftly shuttled into Ukraine.

The coordination body would complement pledges made on Monday by leaders from the Group of 7 wealthy democracies to help rebuild Ukraine and continue to arm it. A new body to coordinate international economic and reconstruction aid — similar the one operating for months to organize military aid — could meet for the first time as soon as January.

For Mr. Macron, the event offered an opportunity to demonstrate European leadership in supporting Ukraine and to assuage recent tensions with the Ukrainian government, after Mr. Macron said last week that an “essential point” in any peace talks on the war should be how to provide security guarantees to Russia. On Monday, Mr. Macron said, “it’s up to Ukraine, the victim of his aggression, to decide the conditions of a just and enduring peace.”

While over €19 billion has been invested in Ukraine this year by international financial institutions, the international community has also agreed to inject at least €1.5 billion worth of financial support into the country every month starting next year, said Ursula Von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission.

The Paris conference comes weeks after a NATO meeting in Bucharest in which the United States pledged $53 million to rebuild Ukraine’s electricity grid.

What makes this latest aid different is the timeline. The goal of the international gathering was to meet Ukraine’s short-term needs, and funds are due to arrive between now and the end of March. A critique of previous aid pledges has been the length of time for delivery.

In the afternoon, Ukrainian ministers are expected to meet with representatives of about 700 French companies to discuss how they can help the country rebuild, both in the short and long terms, in the areas of infrastructure, energy, agriculture, digital innovation and health.

Sumber: www.nytimes.com

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