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  • Writer's pictureThe San Juan Daily Star

Diplomatic push follows Russian strikes that have damaged critical Ukrainian infrastructure

A man and woman walk past a war-damaged building in the frontline city of Bakhmut, Uraine, on Monday, Dec. 12, 2022.

By Yan Zhuang

A flurry of diplomatic talks about support for Ukraine were held Monday, with leaders of the Group of 7 major industrialized nations and European Union foreign ministers each meeting to shore up military and humanitarian backing for Ukraine in the face of Russia’s continued assault.

The latest round of Russian airstrikes have targeted and damaged critical Ukrainian infrastructure, leaving millions without reliable heat and power as winter sets in.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers agreed to put another 2 billion euros into a fund that has been used to pay for military support for Ukraine, bringing the total amount in the fund to 5.5 billion euros, the Council of the European Union said.

“Today’s decision will ensure that we have the funding to continue delivering concrete military support to our partners’ armed forces,” Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s most senior diplomat, said in a statement.

At a separate meeting, the G-7 leaders said they would set up a secretariat for a new donor platform that would aim to fund reconstruction — a process they acknowledged would take years.

Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, who is currently heading the G-7 nations, said the reconstruction of Ukraine will be “a human task that is perhaps comparable to the Marshall Plan” — a reference to a U.S.-financed project to help Western Europe’s economic recovery after the ravages of World War II.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine spoke with the leaders of the United States, France and Turkey on Sunday, before those meetings, as well as an international conference focused on aid to Ukraine to be held in Paris on Tuesday.

Zelenskyy also spoke with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey about building on the grain deal that Erdogan brokered between Ukraine and Russia. Earlier in the war, Erdogan pushed for talks between the two nations that ended without a peace deal, but got Ukraine and Russia’s top diplomats to sit down.

Erdogan also spoke to President Vladimir Putin of Russia earlier on Sunday by phone, expressing his “sincere wish” for the war to end as soon as possible, according to Erdogan’s office.

While the weekend calls with Zelenskyy touched on issues central to the war, there were no signs that Russia and Ukraine were closer to meeting to discuss an end to the war that began in February when Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine.

In an unexpected development, the Kremlin’s spokesperson said Monday that Putin would not hold his annual December news conference for the first time in a decade, a move that follows a series of significant military setbacks for Moscow’s campaign in Ukraine.

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