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Aid to Ukraine is vital this winter as Russia keeps up its attack on infrastructure


Ukraine's government is about to receive more than $4 billion in aid from the U.S. to help keep basic services running. The money will be vital this winter as Russia continues to damage or destroy so much of Ukraine's infrastructure. NPR's Joanna Kakissis reports from Kyiv.

JOANNA KAKISSIS, BYLINE: Ukraine's capital is cold and snowy. And those who live here are weathering repeated power cuts brought on by the ceaseless Russian attacks. Oxana Visnyuk (ph) wears extra sweaters to warm herself. But the electricity cuts cause other problems.

OXANA VISNYUK: I currently work from home. So every problem with electricity lower my work performance.

KAKISSIS: She says she is relieved that some of the latest funding from the U.S. is set to subsidize utilities here and housing. The U.S. is giving the latest tranche of money directly to the Ukrainian government, mostly to pay doctors, teachers and emergency responders.

TANYA LEMESHKO: (Through interpreter) It would be harder for hospitals to operate without this aid from U.S. partners.

KAKISSIS: Tanya Lemeshko is a paramedic in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

LEMESHKO: (Non-English language spoken).

KAKISSIS: She says keeping hospitals, emergency services and schools running helps create stability that's crucial for Ukrainians trying to survive under siege. And she adds that Western aid also helps keep jobs and salaries intact.

LEMESHKO: (Through interpreter) People have work. They have a place to go. They have salaries. So this is a psychological thing.

KAKISSIS: The top USAID official, Samantha Power, explains why this tranche of money is so important.

SAMANTHA POWER: For Ukraine to win the war against Putin, it is going to need more than just weapons, more than just military hardware. It's going to need banking services to keep the economy afloat, schools where teachers are paid, hospitals where health workers can go to work knowing that they can support their families when they get home.

KAKISSIS: She says that all aid to Ukraine has come with strong bipartisan support from Congress. But that could change with the Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives, with some hinting that they want closer scrutiny of the funds. The money will be distributed over the next few weeks.

Joanna Kakissis, NPR News, Kyiv.


Joanna Kakissis is a foreign correspondent based in Kyiv, Ukraine, where she reports poignant stories of a conflict that has upended millions of lives, affected global energy and food supplies and pitted NATO against Russia.