G7, partners vow to support Ukraine's energy sector, U.S. says

WASHINGTON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - G7 and other partner countries on Tuesday pledged to maintain their support for Ukraine's energy sector, including delivering equipment and other humanitarian aid during winter, the U.S. State Department said following a meeting of the group's foreign ministers.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi co-hosted the meeting, in which countries also vowed to continue coordinating on Ukraine's efforts to "modernize and decarbonize its energy grid," the department said after the virtual meeting.

The foreign ministers reiterated calls for Russia to halt attacks on Ukraine's energy and heating systems, the State Department added in a statement.

"The group committed to continuing its close coordination to deliver equipment and humanitarian support this winter, procure essential infrastructure, and support Ukraine’s long-term vision to modernize and decarbonize its energy grid and integrate with the European system," it said.

Tens of thousands of people have been killed and millions driven from their homes since Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February last year.

Ukraine's Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday his country continued to work with partners to speed up repair works to recover generating and distribution facilities, to make the energy system less centralised and implement new energy efficiency programmes.

Ukraine has enough coal and gas reserves for the remaining months of winter despite repeated Russian attacks on its energy system, Shmyhal said.

He added that the situation in the energy sector remained difficult but under control after a months-long Russian campaign of drone and missile strikes on critical infrastructure that damaged about 40% of the energy system.

Despite unseasonably warm weather in December and January, all Ukraine's regions are experiencing scheduled electricity shutdowns due to an energy deficit. Grid operator Ukrenergo said that energy generation had picked up this week.

Reporting by Kanishka singh and Susan Heavey; editing by Chris Reese and Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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