WASHINGTON, Dec 13 (Reuters) – As Washington sends Ukraine U.S.-sourced power equipment to help the country's grid recover from Russian attacks, it is also scouring for those supplies worldwide, U.S. officials said on Tuesday.
The Biden administration this week shipped the first portion of $53 million in power equipment aid it announced last month. The open market value is likely to be higher because utilities and manufacturers provided many items at cost and paid transportation costs.
"They were really quite forthcoming," an Energy Department official said about the suppliers, but noted that not all U.S. equipment is compatible with Ukraine's grid.
"Some of the stuff we have here is not like plug and play with Ukraine, so we have to look and see what is available and what will work," the official said on condition of anonymity.
Russia has launched widespread attacks on Ukraine's electricity transmission and heating infrastructure since October, in what Kyiv and its allies say is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians.
Washington and Western allies have provided Ukraine with funding and equipment to boost Kyiv's energy resilience. Russia's attacks have left millions of people in the dark and without heating amid sub-zero temperatures.
Washington has a constantly shifting master list from Ukraine of its power grid needs, which include keeping sanitation and water systems functioning during blackouts needed to stabilize the country's battered infrastructure.
"Unfortunately, until the Russian attacks stop, we're going to be looking at a patchwork system that will continually have to be stood up again," the official said.
Coordination of the equipment procurement and movement involves the State, Energy and Defense departments; U.S. Agency for International Development; the White House and Ukrainian government, State Department spokesperson Ned Price told reporters at a briefing.
Russia's military is struggling on the battlefield so it is attacking infrastructure to bring the war into Ukrainian homes, Price said. Once Ukraine's urgent needs are met, the administration will focus on meeting its longer term grid reconstruction efforts, he added.
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Vyacheslav Volodin, the speaker of the Duma, said the Russian lower house of parliament was preparing a law to introduce higher taxation for people who have left the country, as many have since the war in Ukraine began in February.
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