Zelenskyy appeals to G7 for more ammunition, air defences as Ukrainians suffer freezing conditions

Russian forces pounded targets in eastern and southern Ukraine with missiles, drones and artillery, Ukraine's General Staff said on Monday, as millions remained without power in sub-zero cold after further Russian strikes on key infrastructure.

'Unliveable conditions' likely to send hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians into Europe over coming months

Leader of Ukraine in the foreground with a screen showing video feed from the G7 leaders summit.
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy attends a meeting of G7 leaders via video link Monday. Zelenskyy is urging western countries to send more tanks, artillery units, shells and long-range weapons to help in the war against Russia. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout/Reuters)

Russian forces pounded targets in eastern and southern Ukraine with missiles, drones and artillery, Ukraine's General Staff said on Monday, as millions remained without power in sub-zero cold after further Russian strikes on key infrastructure.

The Group of Seven (G7) economic powers said they would keep working together to bolster Ukraine's military capabilities, with an immediate focus on air defence systems, according to a leaders' statement released by Britain.

Addressing the virtual G7 gathering, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy urged the leaders to supply Kyiv with modern tanks, artillery units, shells and long-range weapons, and to help his government obtain an extra two billion cubic meters of natural gas in light of Ukraine's energy shortages.

Separately, European Union foreign ministers agreed to put another two billion euros ($2.8 billion Cdn) into a fund that has been used to pay for military support for Ukraine, after it was largely depleted during almost 10 months of the war. More top-ups may be possible at a later stage.

There are no peace talks and no end in sight to the conflict, the biggest in Europe since the Second World War, and which Moscow describes as a "special military operation" against security threats posed by its neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies call it an unprovoked, imperialist land grab.

U.S. and U.K. committed to more military aid

Russia does not yet see a "constructive" approach from the United States on the Ukraine conflict, RIA news agency quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin as saying on Monday.

U.S. President Joe Biden told Zelenskyy on Sunday that Washington was prioritizing efforts to boost Ukraine's air defences, the White House said. Zelenskyy said he had thanked Biden in the call for the "unprecedented defence and financial" help the United States has provided.

British defence minister Ben Wallace said on Monday he would be "open minded" about supplying Ukraine with longer-range missiles to target launch sites for Russian drones that have hit infrastructure if Russia carried on targeting civilian areas.

Elderly individual wearing a toque, standing in front of a destroyed home.
A man walks down by a damaged building, as Russia's attack on Ukraine continues, in the war-torn formerly Russian occupied city of Lyman, Donetsk region. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa on Monday resumed operations suspended after Russia used Iranian-made drones on Saturday to hit two energy facilities. Power is slowly being restored to some 1.5 million people, but the situation remains difficult, national grid operator Ukrenergo said on Monday.

Heavy fighting

In its daily update on the military situation, Ukraine's General Staff said its forces had repelled Russian assaults on four settlements in the eastern Donetsk region and on eight settlements in the adjacent Luhansk region.

The regions are two of four in eastern and southern Ukraine that Moscow claims to have annexed after "referendums" branded illegal by Kyiv.

Ukraine has said Russian forces are suffering huge losses on the eastern front in brutal fighting that is also taking its toll on its own troops.

"There are days when there are many heavily wounded: four or five amputations at once," Oleksii, a 35-year-old army doctor who declined to give his full name, told Reuters at a military hospital in Eastern Ukraine.

Individual wearing camoflage clothing and helmet with a tank in the background.
A member of a Ukrainian National guard demining team walks by the remnant of a Russian armoured personnel carrier in mine fields in the Donesk region. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)

At least two people were killed and five wounded in Kherson on Monday after what regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said was "massive shelling" by Russian forces of the southern city, which was liberated by Ukrainian forces last month.

Reuters could not independently verify the latest battlefield accounts.

The war overall has not gone well for Russia. Its forces were beaten back from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv early on, and have suffered major battlefield reverses in the east and south of Ukraine since the summer.

Against that backdrop, the Kremlin said on Monday President Vladimir Putin would not hold his annual, marathon televised year-end news conference this month, an event he has used to showcase his command of issues and stamina.

No power, freezing cold conditions

Zelenskyy said other areas experiencing "very difficult" conditions with power supplies included the capital Kyiv and Kyiv region and four regions in western Ukraine and Dnipropetrovsk region in the centre of the country.

United Nations aid chief Martin Griffiths arrived in Ukraine on Monday to see "the impact of the humanitarian response and new challenges that have arisen as infrastructure damage mounts amid freezing winter temperatures," his office said.

"Unlivable conditions" are likely to send another wave of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian refugees into Europe over the winter, Jan Egeland, head of the Norwegian Refugee Council, told Reuters after returning from a trip to Ukraine.

Egeland said he feared the crisis in Europe would deepen and overshadow crises in other parts of the world.

Around 18 million people or 40 per cent of Ukraine's population is dependent on aid, the United Nations says. Another 7.8 million have left the country for other parts of Europe.

The EU foreign ministers also discussed though did not reach agreement on a ninth package of sanctions on Russia over the invasion, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters, though he hoped a deal would be done later this week.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told CBS's 60 Minutes Washington's support for Ukraine's military and economy — more than $50 billion — would continue "for as long as it takes" and reiterated that ending the war was the single best thing the United States could do for the global economy.