The Australian government has indicated it may send military staff to Europe as part of an increase in military aid for Ukraine as it continues to push back against Russia’s military aggression.
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles told Sky News Australia on Oct. 11 that the government was considering what more could be done to help Ukraine, with the possibility of sending military forces to Europe to help train Ukrainians on the table.
“We’re talking with Ukraine about the best ways in which we can support them over the long-term,” Marles said. “The objective of those countries supporting Ukraine is to make sure that Ukraine is in a position to resolve the end of this conflict on its own terms because the unprovoked aggression of Russia against Ukraine is just not a proposition that can be allowed to stand, and that means we need to be with Ukraine over the long-term.”
While the deputy prime minister noted that the government was looking at offering training resources to Ukraine, he also said that the government was looking for what would be most impactful in the long-term.
“We just need to work out, obviously, what we can do, but what we can do in a way which gives the best bang for buck and actually does support Ukraine over the long-term,” he said.
Russia Initiates Largest Bombing Campaign Since the Start of the Conflict
The consideration of providing extra military resources to Ukraine comes as Russia has initiated the largest bombing campaign since the beginning of the conflict on Tuesday, with bombs hitting Kyiv, Lviv, Kharkiv and other areas.
Marles has condemned the bombing, calling it an appalling act by Russia in a press conference on Oct. 11.
“What’s really clear is that these strikes have been done with complete indifference to civilian populations. They’ve been directed at population centres in Kyiv and other parts of Ukraine,” he said.
“I was with the Ukrainian Ambassador yesterday when the news broke about these strikes, and the heartbreak was palpable. So what this says to us is that this is going to be a protracted conflict, and we need to be making sure that we are able to stand with Ukraine over the long term so that we can put Ukraine in a position where they can resolve this conflict on their own terms.”
Australian Aid to Ukraine Continues to Grow
Australia has provided one of the largest contributors of aid to the Ukrainian war effort of any non-NATO member country.
Currently, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade states that Australia’s military aid to Ukraine now totals $388 million (US$243 million). This included 60 Bushmasters and 28 M113AS4 Armoured Vehicles. The Ukrainians have praised the Bushmasters calling them a great asset in the field.
Additionally, Australia has provided $65 million in humanitarian assistance, $32.6 million of coal supplies to support Ukraine’s energy security, and $8.7 million to assist Ukraine’s Border Guard Service to upgrade border management equipment, improve cyber security and enhance border operations.
A further $1.68 million was also provided for radiation detection/protection equipment through the International Atomic Energy Agency to help ensure the safe and secure operation of nuclear facilities, and $200,000 to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons to help protect against chemical attacks.
The Australian government has also given duty-free access for Ukrainian imports to Australia and prioritised visa applications from Ukrainian nationals with 8,500 visas to Ukrainians being granted since Feb. 23.