Australia, one of the biggest non-NATO contributors to Ukraine, is to send an additional 70 military vehicles to Ukraine as part of its latest military assistance package for the country.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced the 110 million Australian dollars ($73.5m) package on Monday and told reporters the plan had been under consideration before the weekend’s tumult in Russia.
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The package will include 28 M113 armoured vehicles, 14 special operations vehicles, 28 medium trucks and 14 trailers as well as an additional supply of 105mm artillery ammunition.
“Australia is unwavering in our resolve to condemn and oppose Russia’s actions and to help Ukraine achieve victory,” Albanese said.
Defence Minister Richard Marles said he was “proud” of the additional support Australia was offering.
“We expect this to be a protracted conflict, and so we will stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes,” he told reporters.
The package, which did not include the Hawkei light armoured patrol vehicles or more Bushmaster infantry vehicles requested by Kyiv, comes as Ukraine continues a counteroffensive to push Russian forces from areas they have occupied in the east of the country.
Serhiy Cherevatyi, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s eastern military command, said the military advanced at least 600 metres (1,970 ft) over the previous day near Bakhmut, a city taken by Wagner forces in May after months of fighting. The Russian defence ministry said there had been at least 10 attacks in that area, which they repelled.
Australia will also extend duty-free access for goods imported from Ukraine for a further 12 months to support its recovery and trade opportunities, the statement said.
The additional commitments take Australia’s total contribution to support Ukraine to 790 million Australian dollars ($529m), just more than three-quarters of it in military assistance.
There will, however, be an extra 10 million Australian dollars ($6.7m) for the Ukraine Humanitarian Fund, a United Nations-led fund to meet the urgent needs of millions of Ukrainian civilians caught up in the conflict.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong said supporting Ukraine was important because the principle that a “large country cannot simply change the borders of another country matters to us all”.
She said that was something she had stressed to counterparts in the Pacific and Southeast Asia, according to the Age newspaper.