Ukraine Concerned ‘Premature’ Withdrawal of Australian, US, UK Citizens Will ‘Increase Tensions’

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A spokesperson for the Ukrainian government has said that it was unnecessary for Germany and the AUKUS allies—Australia, the United States, and the United Kingdom—to tell their citizens to withdraw from Ukraine and that it could be used by enemies against the European nation.

Oleg Nikolenko, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Twitter that it was “extremely important to avoid activity that could be used in the information space to increase tensions in society and destabilize the economic and financial security of Ukraine.”

The comments come as Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said on Jan. 25 that the decision to pull citizens out was an important step in protecting Australians and the families of its diplomatic staff in Ukraine.

“We have taken the cautious and prudent decision to return dependants to Australia. And that is understandable, I think, in the circumstances,” Payne said.

“It’s one which we have discussed with our like‑mindeds, particularly the United States, Canada, the UK, many European representatives who also have diplomatic posts in Ukraine,” she said, adding that she spoke to Ukraine Foreign Minister Kubela Dmytro about it last week.

Payne noted the decision to withdraw the family of diplomatic staff in no way changed Australia’s commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.

“We have called on Russia to deescalate,” Payne said. “We have called on Russia to continue engagement in those diplomatic discussions which have been occurring, and we will continue to do that. This is a matter of prudence and caution to protect the safety of Australians and particularly the dependants of diplomatic staff, but it in no way detracts from our absolute commitment to Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.”

Payne has said that Australia will not send in any direct military aid to Ukraine in the event of an invasion. However, the country will provide Ukraine with cyber security assistance.

In an email to The Epoch Times, the Ukrainian Chargé d`Affaires in Australia, Volodymyr Shalkivskyi, noted that the foreign ministers of Ukraine and Australia had an extensive discussion over the security situation along Ukraine’s borders and in the temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.

“They also discussed efforts by the Ukrainian partners to elaborate a comprehensive package of measures to deter Russia from further aggression. These include political support, sanctions towards Russia and security assistance. Given the successful experience in providing Australian cyber security assistance to Ukraine in 2021, officials of both countries will discuss available possibilities for strengthening defence cyber capabilities in Ukraine,” Shalkivskyi said.

Australia’s Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology, Dr. Toby Feakin, has been engaging with the Ukrainian system to discuss the issues they are currently facing after Ukraine has been the target of significant cyberattacks in the past year.

Payne noted that Australia had previously worked with Ukraine in cyber affairs and cybersecurity including providing training in 2021.

Victoria Kelly-Clark

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Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.





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