New York: Ukraine is ramping up calls for Australia to send more weapons and military equipment to fight back against the invading Russian forces, describing Vladimir Putin’s partial military mobilisation and threats of nuclear war as bullying and a sign of desperation.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong, who is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly, said the government was actively considering Ukraine’s requests for additional Bushmaster vehicles, long-range weapons and ammunition.
Ukrainian ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko is calling for more support from the Australian government in the fight against Russia.Credit:Kate Geraghty
Ukrainian ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko urged the government to rapidly provide more military support to Ukraine, saying the war had reached a crucial phase following the Russian president’s dramatic announcement.
“Putin is desperate,” Myroshnychenko told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age.
“He wants people to panic, he wants to frighten the shit out of everyone. This is how a bully behaves.
“The democratic free world cannot afford to cave in to his threats. We need the right weapons now to finish them off.”
Myroshnychenko said he would like Australia to provide Ukraine with a supply of anti-ship missiles known as Harpoons, as well as the additional Bushmasters, 30 Hawkei four-wheel drives and howitzer long-range weapons he has already requested.
“The Black Sea Navy must be gone from Ukrainian ports, we need to get rid of it,” he said.
After meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba for the second time in two days, Wong described Putin’s latest threats as “unthinkable and irresponsible”.
“In relation to further assistance … we are in contact with our Ukrainian colleagues, we understand the extraordinarily difficult circumstances they face … and we will continue to consider the requests that have been made,” she said.
Australia will “continue to do what we can to support those brave men and women who are fighting for their freedom”, she said.
Federal cabinet will meet in Canberra next week and the issue of additional support for Ukraine is expected to be discussed.
Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham called for the government to respond “swiftly, positively and generously” to Ukraine’s request for more military assistance.
“Australia ought to give what we can and we ought to offer what we can to provide that support for Ukraine,” he said.
Foreign Minister Penny Wong has met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba at the United Nations General Assembly. Credit:Alex Ellinghuasen
“There is never a time to give up on the support for international rules and norms, on the support for territorial sovereignty and the freedom of people.”
In a national television broadcast in Moscow on Wednesday, Putin announced he would draft up to 300,000 reservists to support its military campaign in Ukraine following recent major setbacks on the battlefield.
Hinting that he was ready to use nuclear weapons to defend what he views as Russian territory, Putin also voiced his support for staged referendums being planned as a precursor to the annexation of occupied areas of Ukraine.
Joining condemnation by world leaders such as US President Joe Biden, new UK Prime Minister Liz Truss and French President Emmanuel Macron, Wong said: “His claims of defending Russia’s territorial integrity are untrue, and no sham referendum will make them true.
“Russia alone is responsible for the illegal and immoral war, and peace must first lie with Russia withdrawing from Ukrainian territory.”
Wong’s rebuke came moments after Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the General Assembly via video link, telling world leaders that Russia deserves “just punishment” for the crimes against his country.
“We must finally recognise Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism,” he said.
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