EU to provide aid to Ukraine over winter before possible hostility flareup

European Commissioner Janez Lenarcic holds a news conference on EU's assistance to Ukraine ahead of the winter, in Brussels, Belgium November 17, 2022. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

BRUSSELS, Nov 17 (Reuters) - The EU will provide temporary cold-weather shelter, generators and electricity grid-repair kits to Ukraine to help it tide over the winter ahead of a possible flare-up of hostilities in the conflict with Russia, the bloc's crisis management commissioner Janez Lenarcic said on Thursday.

"Winter is almost here and this is now our cardinal priority when we talk about humanitarian aid," he told reporters, adding that the "systematic destruction by Russia of critical infrastructure in Ukraine" has made support over the winter even more crucial.

EU member states have been asked to prepare for additional refugee inflows from Ukraine during the winter if there is a surge in attacks, Lenarcic said.

"We are encouraging member states to put enough resources in place to face this kind of increased needs, he said.

While winters in Ukraine tend to be very cold with temperatures plunging well below zero Celsius, this one will be precarious, with Russia likely continuing to attack its power, water and heating infrastructure.

"You can imagine how hard this winter could be for Ukrainians when they are facing energy shortages, electricity blackouts, lack of water, lack of heating, oil," Lenarcic said. "All of these due to the Russian destruction of critical civilian infrastructure,"

Earlier this month, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that if expected deliveries from abroad are taken into account, the country should have sufficient gas supplies for this winter.

Reporting by Charlotte Van Campenhout Editing by Bernadette Baum

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