Ukraine allies pledge over 1 bln euros in winter aid

STORY: Some 70 countries and institutions have pledged over $1.05 billion in immediate aid to help Ukraine get through a harsh winter.

Russian forces have battered the country's energy grid and other critical civilian infrastructure, leaving many without essentials ahead of Ukraine's typically frigid season.

France hosted a global meeting to discuss what could be offered to maintain water, food, energy, health and transport.

Here's foreign minister, Catherine Colonna.

“I'm talking about efforts worth 125 million euros in total, from today until late March, the end of winter, which is our (France's) contribution in this conference to urgently help the Ukrainian population to survive. By the way, with regard to our country, this is the most significant humanitarian effort that has ever been mobilized by France in such a short period, in a very limited timeframe."

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told reporters in Paris that Ukraine was grateful for the aid.

"I had the opportunity to meet with representatives from donors organizations, and for us in Ukraine, this is a very powerful signal to show that the whole of the civilized world is supporting Ukraine, and we're very grateful to all the countries."

The conference was also an opportunity for French President Emmanuel Macron to display solidarity with Ukraine.

He has been criticized by some European allies and Kyiv itself over the level of French military support.

And his comments about needing to maintain dialogue with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“These air strikes openly targeting the Ukrainian population and civilian infrastructure, these strikes whose, Russia admitted, only purpose was to undermine the Ukrainian people's resistance amount to war crimes. They violate, without any doubt possible, the most fundamental principles of humanitarian law. These acts are unacceptable and will not remain unpunished. I want to be clear, in this context, it is up to Ukraine, the victim of the aggression, to decide on the conditions of a fair and sustainable peace.”

The meeting also established a mechanism for Ukraine to submit its urgent needs.

Donor countries can then respond promptly.

A second meeting between France, Ukraine and some 500 French companies will look into what can be invested to assist Kyiv in the short to longer term.