Australia may provide military training to Ukraine forces: PM

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese says his government is considering a request from Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Three men in army uniform on an open, dirt area
Australian forces during military exercises at the Puckapunyal Military Base some 100km (62 miles) north of Melbourne in 2019 [William West/AFP]

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said his government would consider providing military training to Ukrainian forces in their war with Russia.

The prime minister told Australian media on Wednesday he had spoken to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday about what further contributions Australia could make to Ukraine’s war effort.

Albanese told broadcaster Channel 7 news that the government “certainly” is considering training Ukrainian military personnel, describing Russia’s targeting of civilians as “appalling attacks”.

Reports differed on where that training might be provided, with some news organisations saying Australian trainers would be sent to Ukraine while other reports said the training would not take place inside Ukrainian territory.

“I conveyed to him [Zelenskyy] the condolences of the Australian people for the innocent victims who have been murdered by Russian aggression, targeting civilian locations including in Kyiv, just about a kilometre from where I was just a couple of months ago,” Albanese said, referring to a visit to Kyiv he had undertaken in July.

Person lying on rug on the ground, watching something on their laptop. Mother and child are squatting facing each other and doing something on the ground
People shelter in a subway station during a Russian missile attack in Kyiv, October 11, 2022 [Viacheslav Ratynskyi/Reuters]

“This is a fight not just about Ukraine’s sovereignty,” the prime minister said.

“This is a fight about the international rule of law, about whether sovereign borders will be respected and that is why the world is united in their support for Ukraine against this Russian aggression,” Albanese said.

“We would have thought that a land war in Europe was something of the past but Russia continues to engage in these aggressive acts. We’ll continue to provide support. We are the largest non-NATO contributor,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Australian government said it had so far spent about 500 million Australian dollars ($314 million) including 388 million Australian dollars ($244 million) in military assistance to Ukraine.

The Australian prime minister’s comments came after Zelenskyy appealed to leaders of the Group of Seven (G7) countries for more air defence capabilities during a meeting of the group on Tuesday.

Zelenskyy told the G7 – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States –  that Ukraine needs an “air shield” to stop the Russian missiles that have rained down on his country this week killing civilians and destroying infrastructure.

In a joint statement released at the end of the meeting, the G7 pledged continued “financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support” to Ukraine “for as long as it takes”.

The G7 reiterated that attacks on civilian populations constitute war crimes and pledged to “hold President Putin and those responsible to account”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies