Australia will deploy a contingent of 70 military personnel to the United Kingdom and gift a further 30 Bushmaster armoured vehicles to Ukraine as part of its continued support for the war effort.
The military personnel will join Operation INTERFLEX to provide infantry and cyber training in January 2023, which is the multi-national military operation to train and support the Ukrainian reserve force, which has had little on-field training.
The Department of Defence has stated that no Australian military personnel will enter Ukraine.
Appearing on ABC Breakfast television on Oct. 27, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said that Australia was aware longer term support would be required now.
“We’re mindful that Ukraine needs to now be supported over the longer term if we’re going to put Ukraine in a position where it can resolve this conflict on its own terms,” Marles, who is also the defence minister, said. “And so this tranche is very much focused on that, both in terms of making sure that we are helping in a UK‑led initiative in respect of training but also extending the line of Bushmasters that we will be providing to Ukraine.”
Australia to Support Ukraine as Long as it Takes
Marles also said Australia was willing to provide support to Ukraine for “as long as it takes,” in a separate interview to ABC Radio.
“I think it is important to observe that no one would have imagined the way in which Ukraine has been able to resist the Russian aggression, and it’s heroic really that they are in the position that they’re in now and all that they’ve achieved over the course of the year, but it does now take us to a conflict which is protracted, which is going to go on for a long time,” he said. “And we’ve been very mindful for a while now that we need to be providing support to Ukraine over the long term.”
The new round of support takes the Australian support package to Ukraine to a total of approximately $655 million (US$422.8 million) in support, including $475 million in military assistance—this makes Australia one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the eastern European war effort.
Ukrainian MP Andrii Osadchuk told ABC on Oct. 27 that the Ukrainians were very thankful for Australia’s assistance because every day the country is consuming huge amounts of military resources to defend itself against the Russian offensive.
“We spend, I think, at least 10 to 15,000 shells per day when Russians are spending 50,000 shells per day,” Osadchuk said. “So we’re extremely thankful for everything that Australia is doing for Ukraine.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the country would provide unequivocal bipartisan support.
“We will continue to stand up for freedom and democracy,” he said. “This is a not just about Ukraine’s sovereignty, [and] the brave people of Ukraine are defending international law, rules and norms.”