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Transformers, Air Defenses Needed, Ukraine Tells Visiting Ministers

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba. [AP]

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba told a gathering of seven Nordic and Baltic foreign ministers on Monday that his country needed transformers and improved air defenses to stave off Russian air strikes on energy infrastructure.

 Kuleba was flanked by officials from Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden ahead of a meeting of NATO military alliance foreign ministers in Bucharest on Tuesday and Wednesday.

 "To restore the system we need two things," Kuleba told a news conference, as utility workers in Ukraine sought to restore power and other services in the aftermath of the latest Russian attacks last week.

 "We need transformers. This is the biggest element of the energy infrastructure to be restored. And we need air defense that will allow us to shoot down Russian missiles targeting our infrastructure."

 And he added: "But it's also important to have delegations like this in Ukraine. ... So to our colleagues, thank you."

 The ministers issued a joint statement after their talks calling for efforts to improve Ukrainian air defenses. They said the sovereignty and equal status of all countries would be under threat unless Russia faced a firm response for its attacks.

 Earlier, Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu told Reuters in an interview that Western countries needed to boost their support for Kyiv.

 "The strongest message from this visit is: Ukraine needs to win this war and therefore that the Western support should be stronger; more heavy weaponry without any political caveats, also including long-distance missiles," Reinsalu said.

 He called for a stronger package of sanctions on Russia, for Moscow's greater international isolation and the creation of "an international tribunal on the crime of aggression" by Russia.

 Russia unleashed its latest barrage of missile strikes on Ukrainian infrastructure last Wednesday, causing sweeping blackouts across the country.

 Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said: "We ... are in Kyiv today in full solidarity with Ukraine. Despite Russia's bomb rains and barbaric brutality, Ukraine will win!"

 Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal wrote on Twitter that the ministers had "discussed the tightening of sanctions, the reconstruction of energy infrastructure & financial support. Called for support for Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic aspirations."