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U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken says Russia's recent strategy of targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure will not divide Ukraine's supporters.
Blinken on November 30 told a news conference in Bucharest following a two-day NATO foreign ministers' meeting that Russian President Vladimir Putin has focused "his ire and his fire" on Ukraine's civilian population, hitting infrastructure that provides heat, water, and electricity to Ukrainians.
"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 said.
Russia's recent attacks have left millions of people in the dark and without heating amid sub-zero temperatures. Blinken said his "brutalization of Ukraine's people is barbaric."
Blinken accused Putin of trying to force Ukraine's partners to abandon their support for Ukraine.
"This strategy has not, and will not, work. We will continue to prove him wrong. That's what I heard loudly and clearly from every country here in Bucharest," Blinken added.
The United States and other Western allies pledged more financial support and relevant equipment to boost Kyiv's energy resilience during the foreign ministers' meeting.
In addition, U.S. military planners are working to ensure that the equipment provided thus far to restore Ukraine's energy infrastructure is not destroyed by Russian attacks, Blinken said.
The United States also is trying to establish the best possible defense for Ukraine's energy infrastructure, he said.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who also attended the meeting in Bucharest, said on Twitter that he and Blinken "focused on urgent assistance to restore Ukraine's energy system and new military aid, including [air defense], to protect it from Russian strikes."
Blinken also said NATO is considering the possibility of investing in the production of Soviet-era weapons systems used by the Ukrainian Army.
Ukraine’s NATO allies are considering all options to provide Ukraine with what will be effective, including Soviet-era weapons systems that have been in the Ukrainian arsenal for decades, and ammunition for these systems.
In some cases, this may require the production of equipment that has not been produced for some time, he told CNN.
Blinken's comments came after The New York Times reported last week that NATO member states are discussing the possibility of investing in old factories in the Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Bulgaria to resume production of ammunition for Ukrainian Soviet-style artillery systems.
NATO foreign ministers also used their meeting in Bucharest to reassure countries in Russia's neighborhood that could be destabilized by Russia as the conflict in Ukraine drags on.
The NATO ministers pledged to provide stronger "individualized support" for Moldova, Georgia, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, countries that Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said are "facing pressure from Russia" amid Moscow's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
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