Germany calls for 'protective winter shield' over Ukraine

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warns that Russia has amassed a stockpile of missiles ahead of winter

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has warned that Russia has stockpiled missiles.  (Saul Loeb / Pool Photo via AP)
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Germany on Wednesday called on Ukraine's supporters to create a "winter shield" over the country to protect it from Russian attacks.

Russia's attacks have intensified in recent weeks as Ukraine counter-offensive makes little headway.

German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock warned of the need to protect Ukraine.

"Russia again is aiming at civil infrastructure", she said on the sidelines of a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels.

Russia launched its largest drone attack yet on Ukraine on Saturday targeting Kyiv.

The attack at the weekend involved 75 drones – 71 of which were shot down by Ukraine - in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy described as “wilful terror”.

On Wednesday, Nato's Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia has amassed a large missile stockpile ahead of winter.

He said Russia has been making new attempts to strike Ukraine's power grid and energy infrastructure, "trying to leave Ukraine in the dark and cold."

The European Union has delivered about 300,000 of its promised million shells to Ukraine so far, according to Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.

He has called for greater alignment of Ukraine's and Nato's defence industries to ensure Kyiv has the supplies it needs to defeat Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022.

"We need to create a Euro-Atlantic common area of defence industries," he said, adding this would ensure both Ukraine's security and that of Nato countries themselves.

Kyiv has for the last several months engaged in a concerted drive to entice leading global arms manufacturers to set up operations in Ukraine, part of a bid to diversify its reliance on weapons and ammunition given by its allies.

Mr Kuleba rejected claims the war is now at a stalemate, after Ukraine's summer counter-offensive failed to win back significant amounts of territory occupied by Russia.

"There is no stalemate," he said.

He also renewed his pledge that Ukraine won't "back down" in its fight against Russia.

"We have to continue, we have to keep fighting. Ukraine is not going to back down," he said.

"Our strategic goal, which is territorial integrity within internationally recognised borders as of 1991, remains unchanged.

"The issue here is not just Ukraine's security it is the security and safety of the entire Euro-Atlantic space."

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington and its allies remained steadfast in their backing for Ukraine against Russia's invasion, despite doubts over future assistance and stalemate on the ground.

"Some are questioning whether the United States and other Nato allies in truth continue to stand with Ukraine as we enter the second winter of (Russian President Vladimir) Putin's brutality," he said.

"But the answer here today at Nato is clear and it's unwavering. We must and we will continue to support Ukraine."

Opposition from hardline Republicans in the US Congress has stalled a new $60-billion package of support and thrown into question the future of Washington's assistance.

"Hopefully the US Congress will also find a solution that will be in the best interests of the American people which is actually to support both Israel and Ukraine," Mr Kuleba said.

"Because you know, the best way to avoid sending your own soldiers into war is to help another country fight its own war."

Updated: November 29, 2023, 3:11 PM