Representatives from dozens of nations and global organizations met Tuesday in Paris to put hundreds of millions of euros in support behind an urgent push to keep Ukraine powered, fed and moving through the winter in the face of Russia’s bombardment against its energy infrastructure.
The international donor conference quickly raised pledges of financial and in-kind support, in defiant response to Russia’s energy warfare. Aerial bombardments—often through the use of Iranian drones—have plunged millions of Ukrainian civilians into the deepening cold and dark by targeting crucial infrastructure.
Western leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron have denounced the strikes against Ukrainian utilities as “war crimes” against civilians that “cannot go unpunished.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed Tuesday’s donor conference. He said some 12 million Ukrainians, or roughly one-fourth of the population, were living with power outages.
Donor pledges quickly surged past the 400-million euro mark, the equivalent of more than $420 million, Macron’s office said. The total included 125 million euros ($131 million) worth of aid from host country France.
The European Union’s chief executive, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, announced funding for the purchase of 30 million energy-saving light bulbs that Ukraine requested to reduce pressure on its power grid.
The Paris meeting was attended by 46 countries and 24 international organizations. The group also put in place a web-based system to coordinate aid throughout the winter, reducing redundancy from donors and enabling Ukraine to list its civilian aid needs.