Canada says Nato fully behind Ukraine through hard winter

Mélanie Joly, the foreign minister in Ottawa, says Russia’s targeting of energy grid and civil infrastructure only strengthens allies’ support

Nato remains firmly committed to supporting Ukraine through a “difficult” winter, even though an end to the conflict with Russia remains out of sight, Canada’s foreign minister has told the Guardian.

“Russia isn’t at the negotiation table at all. And so our goal right now is just to reinforce Ukraine’s position on the ground through military aid, intelligence sharing and financial support,” said Mélanie Joly. “Because when we do that, we’re actually reinforcing their position at the negotiation table. There will be a diplomatic solution eventually. That’s been the case in every single conflict. But we’re not there yet.”

Despite reports that western allies are growing wary of continued and costly arms shipment – and concerned at the speed with which Ukraine is using up its ammunition – Joly said there was “strong support for Ukraine” ahead of the Nato summit.

She pointed to Canada’s pledge of C$500m (£310m) in new military aid to Ukraine, announced at the G20 summit in Jakarta.

Russia’s targeting of Ukraine’s civilian infrastructure, particularly power plants, had only increased support from allies, Joly said.

“We need to make sure that Ukrainians are able to get through this difficult winter,” she said, adding that energy ministers from Nato countries were looking for solutions to the looming energy crisis.

Russia has pounded energy facilities around Kyiv with missile strikes, resulting in power outages and breaks in water supplies.

With temperatures hovering around freezing, and expected to dip as low as -11C in little more than a week, international help has been increasingly focused on items such as generators and autotransformers, to make sure blackouts that affect everything from kitchens to operating rooms are as limited and short as possible.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, “continues trying to make Ukraine a black hole – no light, no electricity, no heating to put the Ukrainians into the darkness and the cold”, said the European Union foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell. “So we have to continue our support providing more material for the Ukrainians to face the winter without electricity.”

Borrell was leading a meeting of EU ministers that would specifically “look at the Ukrainian war from the point of view of a humanitarian crisis”.

Over the next three days, leading Nato officials and foreign ministers will gather in Bucharest, Romania, where such humanitarian aspects will also be assessed.

Ukraine’s energy provider Ukrenergo said on Monday that its output was 27% short after Russian strikes on energy infrastructure. “The scale and complexity of the damage are high, and repair works have continued around the clock,” it said.


Leyland Cecco in Toronto and Peter Beaumont

The GuardianTramp

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