The United States and France have promised to maintain support for Ukraine against Russia’s ongoing invasion, stressing that those responsible for attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure in the war-torn country must be held accountable.
In a statement outlining discussions between US President Joe Biden and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron at the White House on Thursday, the two countries slammed “Russia’s illegal war of aggression” against its neighbour.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
Biden and Macron “also reiterate their steadfast resolve to hold Russia to account for widely documented atrocities and war crimes, committed both by its regular armed forces and by its proxies”, the statement said.
“We reaffirm that France and the United States together, with all our NATO allies and the European Union and the G7, stand as strong as ever against Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine,” Biden said during a news conference alongside Macron after lengthy talks in the Oval Office.
The US president told reporters that “France and the United States are facing down [Russian President] Vladimir Putin’s grasping ambition for conquest” and “defending democratic values and universal human rights”.
Biden also said he was prepared to speak with Putin “if, in fact, there is an interest in him deciding he’s looking for a way to end the war”. But Biden added that Putin “hasn’t done that yet”.
Western powers are trying to rally support for Ukraine as the country reels from massive, near-weekly missile and drone attacks targeting power, water and heat supplies in its cities, just as winter is setting in, nine months into Russia’s invasion.
Thursday’s talks between Biden and Macron came as the mayor of Kyiv, Vitaliy Klitschko, urged residents of the Ukrainian capital to stock up on water, food and warm clothing in the event of a total blackout.
Klitschko also advised people to consider staying with friends on the outskirts of the city if possible.
Russian rockets pounded neighbourhoods overnight in the recently liberated city of Kherson. The attacks knocked out power supplies after electricity had only begun to be restored nearly three weeks after Russian troops vacated the city.
Some locals hugged Ukrainian servicemen as they patrolled past charred cars and buildings whose windows had been blown out by overnight shelling, leaving a number of people hospitalised.
“Ukraine will win. We will get through it,” said Inna Sydorchuk, 52, a resident of one of the apartment blocks that was hit.
Earlier on Thursday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov defended the country’s recent attacks, saying Ukrainian energy infrastructure ” supports the combat capability of the Ukrainian armed forces and nationalist battalions”.
Lavrov said in an online news conference that the barrage was intended to “knock out energy facilities that allow you to keep pumping deadly weapons into Ukraine in order to kill the Russians”.
Last month, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Russia of seeking to “freeze” Ukraine into submission.
“President Putin seems to have decided that if he can’t seize Ukraine by force, he will try to freeze it into submission,” Blinken said on November 4, after a G7 foreign ministers meeting in Germany.