U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday condemned Russia’s weeks-long assault on Ukraine’s power grid and other infrastructure as an attempt to “freeze and starve” its people, with the war-torn country's foreign minister renewing a call for advanced missile systems.

Blinken spoke after a meeting with his NATO counterparts in Bucharest, Romania devoted in part to coordinating aid to keep the lights — and furnaces — on in Ukraine, where Russian strikes have damaged much of the country’s electrical infrastructure.“Russia has bombed out more than a third of Ukraine’s energy system.

Plunging millions into cold, into darkness as frigid temperatures set in. Heat. Water. Electricity. For children, for the elderly, for the sick. These are President (Vladimir) Putin’s new targets. He’s hitting them hard,” he said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has underscored that his country’s biggest needs now are electrical gear and more advanced air-defense systems than it has so far received from the U.S. and other allies, to stop Russia from bombing its grid in the first place.

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