Australia will provide 34 additional armoured vehicles to Ukraine as part of a $100 million military aid package and prohibit Russian gold imports, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has announced.
Speaking in Ukraine’s capital in Kyiv alongside President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Mr Albanese said Australia would also impose sanctions and travel bans on 16 more Russian ministers and oligarchs.
It brings the total number of Russian individuals sanctioned by Australia to 843.
During a surprise visit to the war-torn European nation, Mr Albanese said Australia would give Ukraine 14 more armoured personnel carriers and 20 Bushmaster vehicles.
Australia will also offer further support to Ukraine’s border guard service to update border management equipment and enhance field operations.
Despite Australia’s burgeoning public debt, it has now sent almost $390 million of taxpayer-funded equipment to Ukraine during this conflict – more than any other non-NATO country – and Mr Albanese forecast there would be even more to come.
Armed Ukrainian troops kept a vigilant guard as Australian prime minister Anthony Albanese toured Maidan Square in the war-torn capital of Kyiv on Sunday
Say cheese: Ukranian Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroschnychenko (left) gets a selfie with Anthony Albanese during the prime minister’s visit of war-torn Kyiv on Sunday
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese inspects the devastating damage in Irpin during a surprise visit to Ukraine
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announces more Russian sanctions and more military aid on his first visit to Ukraine
‘Australia stands ready to continue to support the government and the people of Ukraine for as long as it takes for Ukraine to emerge victorious in defence of your national sovereignty and your homeland,’ Mr Albanese told the Ukraine president.
‘Because you are fighting for the international rule of law, you are fighting for international rules in which we conduct our activity to be respected and to occur in an orderly way.’
Mr Zelensky was grateful to Australia for the assistance.
‘We must strengthen international co-operation in order to break Russia’s aggressive potential.,’ Mr Zelenskiy said. ‘We must increase the sanctions pressure on the aggressor.’
‘More than 2000 settlements in the east and south of Ukraine have yet to be liberated. I offered Australia to take part in the post-war reconstruction and I am grateful for the willingness to join the implementation of this, I am sure, ambitious project.’
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese toured damaged residential areas on the outskirts of Kyiv during the top secret visit
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spent 12 hours in Ukraine on Sunday. The Prime Minister is pictured holding a model of the Antonov Mriya plane at Hostomel airport on the outskirts of Kyiv
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (left) lit candles in a tribute to killed civilians at St Andrews Orthodox Church in Bucha, Ukraine
Anthony Albanese visited Ukraine at the end of his week-long overseas trip, his third within six weeks of becoming prime minister
The Prime Minister’s secret trip to Ukraine was a side trip on his way home from Paris and is expected to return to Australia on Tuesday.
The trip follows an invitation in June from Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, to Mr Albanese to visit the nation’s capital.
Reuters reported that Governor Oleksiy Kuleba wrote on Telegram that Mr Albanese visited the towns of Bucha, Irpin, and Hostomel, where Ukraine says Russia committed atrocities against civilians. Russia denies the allegations.
‘Australia supports Ukraine and wants to see justice meted out for the crimes committed here,’ Mr Kuleba quoted Albanese as saying.
Albanese said Australia would impose sanctions and travel bans on 16 more Russian ministers and oligarchs, bringing the total number of Russian individuals sanctioned by Australia to 843
The trip follows an invitation in June from Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, to Mr Albanese to visit the nation’s capital Kyiv
Australia has condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and pledged $285 million of military aid including armoured personnel carriers and Bushmaster vehicles.
During his Europe visit, Mr Albanese indicated Australia would look to re-establish a diplomatic presence in Ukraine. Australian embassy staff have been working from neighbouring Poland since the Ukraine crisis began.
Mr Albanese is expected back in Australia on Tuesday.
Albanese visited war-torn Ukraine on the heels of the NATO summit to survey the horrific damage wrought by Russian forces.
The Prime Minister was tailed closely by Australian and the Ukrainian security teams as he was escorted through Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel, north-west of Kyiv.
Ukraine has accused Russian soldiers of carrying out a long list of war crimes in the area with several bloody massacres of innocent civilians as well as systematic rapes.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured centre), listens to a translator, during his visit to Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, July 3, 2022.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured second left) checks damaged buildings by Russian shelling, during his visit to Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, third right, looks at apartment buildings and vehicles damaged by Russian shelling, during his visit to Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine
Kyiv Governor Oleksiy Kuleba wrote on Facebook on Sunday night that Mr Albanese was taken aback by the devastation he had witnessed.
‘He was shocked by what he saw: destroyed civilian houses, traces of mines, destroyed Antonov airport,’ Mr Kuleba wrote.
He added that the Prime Minister said Australia ‘supports Ukraine and advocates fair punishment for the crimes that have taken place here’.
Mr Kuleba said he was ‘grateful to the (Australian) delegation for their personal visit to the Kyiv region.
‘The war in Ukraine, in the centre of Europe, must remain in the world agenda.’
Mr Albanese’s visit to Ukraine was a side trip on his way home from Paris on Sunday.
The trip followed an invitation in June from Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, to Mr Albanese to visit the nation’s capital Kyiv.
Speaking last week in front of world leaders in Madrid at the largest NATO summit ever held, Mr Albanese said February’s invasion of Ukraine territory was ‘brutal, illegal and unjustified’.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese visits Kyiv region, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (pictured third left) looks at apartment buildings damaged by Russian shelling, during his visit to Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, speaks to journalists on the outskirts of Kyiv
He said the West’s united front against Russia and the fallout from the war was a warning to China that it too would meet resistance if it continued its increasingly aggressive stance in the Pacific.
On Australian Defence Force advice there was a total media blackout for the duration of Mr Albanese’s trip to Ukraine.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (in dark blue shirt) was shocked by what he saw in a trip to Ukraine
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese speaks to Governor of the Kyiv region Oleksiy Kuleba during his visit to Kyiv region
The Australian media was instructed not to report on it until the Prime Minister was back in Poland, but foreign media and the governor of Kyiv revealed the visit.
The airspace over Ukraine has been closed since the invasion began on February 24, and the roads into Kyiv are mostly impassable due to heavy fighting.
On Sunday, Russian troops continued to attack the eastern city of Lysychansk and missiles killed dozens across the country.
Moscow claimed it has seized the city, which had been the final part of the province of Luhansk which Russia had not controlled.
Before Mr Albanese’s visit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the country ‘requires colossal investments – billions, new technologies, best practices, new institutions and, of course, reforms’.
‘The war is not over,’ he said. ‘Unfortunately, its cruelty is only increasing in some places, and it cannot be forgotten.’