Australia gives $100m to Ukraine during minister’s trip

Dominic Giannini and William Ton |

Defence Minister Richard Marles has announced a further $100 million aid package for Ukraine.
Defence Minister Richard Marles has announced a further $100 million aid package for Ukraine.

Australia has pledged an extra $100 million in support for Ukraine off the back of the defence minister’s visit to the war-torn nation. 

The package includes $50 million for short-range air defence systems, $30 million for unmanned drones and $15 million for “high priority” equipment such as combat helmets, inflatable boats, boots, fire masks and generators.

Ukraine will also receive air-to-ground precision munitions.

It brings Australia’s total contributions to more than $1 billion since Russia’s invasion, including about $880 million of military assistance.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles met Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Deputy Defence Minister Ivan Havryliuk during a one day trip to Ukraine. 

Mr Marles met with Ukrainian government officials and toured defence sites during a visit to Lviv in the country’s far west, near the Polish border.

He also laid a wreath at a commemoration ceremony for former graduates who had been killed during his visit to the National Army Academy, where he also met the next generation of Ukrainian army leaders.

It was important to visit the country in person as a show of support, Mr Marles said.

“It’s really important that the world doesn’t forget Ukraine, it matters that people are coming here and that people and countries are continuing to provide support,” he told reporters in Lviv on Saturday, local time.

“So that’s why we felt it was very important, on this occasion, not just to announce a tranche of support but to announce it here in Ukraine.”

The new tranche was “by no means the end”, he said as he pledged Australia’s enduring support.

Vehicles being loaded on to a plane
Australia has previously provided Ukraine with armoured trucks and 120 Bushmasters. (HANDOUT/DEPARTMENT OF DEFENCE)

Mr Shmyhal thanked Australia and the minister for his visit while standing alongside Mr Marles in Lviv.

“I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the people and government of Australia for a clear and consistent position on Ukraine sovereignty and territorial integrity and condemning Russian aggression,” he said.

Australia’s opposition welcomed the government’s announcement but called for the minister to go further and approve a request for coal shipments to shore up Ukraine’s energy grid.

It also called for the government to provide any parts of Australia’s retired Taipan helicopter fleet – which officials previously ruled out due to safety concerns – as well as Abrams tanks, which are due to be retired.

“The coalition strongly welcomes additional support for Ukraine in their fight against Russia’s illegal and immoral invasion,” opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham and defence spokesman Andrew Hastie said in a joint statement.

Australia has previously provided Ukraine with armoured trucks and vehicles including 120 Bushmasters, six boats, de-mining and counter-drone systems, and ammunition.

During his overseas trip, Mr Marles also visited Poland, where he met his deputy prime minister and defence counterpart Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz to discuss the conflict in Ukraine and its global implications.

It has been more than two years since Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, with the United Nations saying at least 10,242 civilians killed and more than 19,300 injured.