G7 discussed how to help Ukraine defend against Russian attacks on infrastructure

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MUENSTER, Germany, Nov 4 (Reuters) – Top diplomats from the rich democracies of Group of Seven countries have discussed how to help Ukraine against Russia’s attacks on its civilian infrastructure and agreed on the need for a coordination mechanism, a senior State Department official said on Friday.

“They discussed what needs Ukraine was facing as it heads into the winter and agreed that there needed to be a G7 coordinating mechanism to help Ukraine repair, restore and defend its critical energy and water infrastructure,” the official told reporters.

“That’s something that will be a core focus of this group in the days and weeks ahead,” the official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said.

Over the past few weeks, Russia’s has launched waves of missile and drone strikes targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Kyiv says they have damaged up to 40% of the power system and Ukrainian authorities warned that residents may face hours of blackouts to the limited supplies.

Moscow has acknowledged targeting energy infrastructure but denies targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine to eliminate dangerous nationalists and protect Russian-speakers.

There was more focus on the need to respond and defend against Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s civilian energy infrastructure, including air defence systems, the U.S. official said.

“There was a decent amount of discussion of that, and what countries have the ability to provide the individual systems and support that might enable Ukraine to better defend itself against these UAV and missile attacks,” the official said.

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Iran of sending “kamikaze” drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), to Russia which have then been used to devastating effect by Russian forces in strikes targeting Ukrainian infrastructure as part of their Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine. Iran denies the charge.

NATO has pledged to boost the protection of critical infrastructure after the ruptures in September in the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 gas pipelines, laid on the bed of the Baltic Sea from Russia to Germany.

(Reporting by Humeyra Pamuk; Editing by Alex Richardson)

The High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Spaniard Josep Borrell takes part of a G7 Foreign Ministers Meeting in Muenster, western Germany on November 3, 2022. European Commission / Sascha Schuermann

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