BRUSSELS (AP) – European Union leaders will meet on Friday to take stock of their support for Ukraine after President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia is trying to fuel an exodus of refugees through the energy infrastructure of its destroy war-ravaged country.
Nearly eight months after the war, Russia is increasingly targeting Ukraine’s power plants, waterworks and other key infrastructure with missiles and drone strikes. Meanwhile, the EU is grappling with the ramifications of an urgent need to get rid of Russian gas and oil as the war fuels price hikes and market nervousness.
Speaking via video link to European leaders in Brussels on Thursday, Zelenskyy said that “attacks by Russian cruise missiles and Iranian combat drones have destroyed more than a third of our energy infrastructure. Unfortunately, this means we can no longer export electricity to help you maintain stability.”
“Russia is also triggering a new wave of migration of Ukrainians to EU countries,” by attacking electricity and heating sources “so that as many Ukrainians as possible move to your countries.”
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has labeled Russia’s attacks on civilian infrastructure as “war crimes” and “acts of pure terror”.
More than 4.3 million Ukrainian citizens have applied for temporary protection in the EU. Almost a third of them are hosted in Poland only.
In a draft EU summit statement, leaders affirm that they will “stand by Ukraine as long as necessary” with continued political, military and economic support.
They also say the bloc of 27 countries will “step up its humanitarian response, especially to prepare for the winter”. The draft text, as seen by the Associated Press, is expected to be adopted later Friday, but the precise wording is subject to change.
The EU is deeply divided over how to deal with the unauthorized arrival of migrants – the issue is at the heart of one of the bloc’s biggest political crises ever – but many countries, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe, have their objections to massive welcome in war refugees from Ukraine.
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