Blinken: NATO Support of Ukraine Is ‘Ironclad’
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned Russia’s weeks-long assault on Ukraine’s power grid, saying as NATO scrambled Wednesday to scrape up replacement electrical gear that Russia had turned its war machine to strikes aiming to target civilians.
“We know President Putin’s playbook; freeze and starve Ukrainians, force them from their homes, drive up energy, food and other household costs, not only across Europe but around the world, and then try to splinter our coalition,” Blinken told a news conference in Bucharest after a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.
“President Putin thinks that if he can just raise the costs high enough, the world will abandon Ukraine. That will leave them to fend for themselves. His strategy has not and will not work. We will continue to prove him wrong,” he added, saying NATO’s support for Ukraine remained “ironclad”.
The NATO foreign ministers’ meeting in Bucharest is devoted in part to coordinating aid to keep the lights — and furnaces — on in Ukraine, where Russian strikes have damaged an estimated one third of the electrical infrastructure.
NATO says the missiles appear to be particularly targeting vulnerable transmission networks, leaving Ukrainians dealing with darkness and cold.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has underscored that his country’s biggest needs now are electrical gear and more advanced air-defence systems than it has gotten from the U.S. and other allies so far, to deal with the Russian missile strikes.
Ukraine is seeking U.S.-made Patriot missile batteries or other more advanced air defences to block Russian air strikes.
The provision of Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Ukraine would mark a major advance in the kinds of air defence systems the West is sending to help the war-torn country defend itself from Russian aerial attack.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that deliveries of such sophisticated surface to air missiles systems are under consideration among some allies. The military organization does not possess any weapons, only its member countries do.
A senior U.S. defence official who briefed Pentagon reporters on Tuesday, on condition of anonymity, said that the United States is open to providing Patriots. While Ukraine has asked for the system for months, the U.S. and its allies have been hesitant to provide it to avoid further provoking Russia.
Blinken also addressed China, saying the alliance remained “concerned” over its “coercive policies or by its use of disinformation, by its rapid, opaque military build-up, including its cooperation with Russia.”
He added that NATO remained, however ” committed to maintaining a constructive dialogue with China wherever we can, and we welcome opportunities to work together on common challenges.”
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