When Anthony Albanese first met Volodymyr Zelensky, a picture of the Ukrainian leader wearing an Australian flag sleeve patch on his recognizable green polo surfaced.
The picture shows the two leaders grinning and holding hands. Mr. Zelensky is displaying an insignia with a kangaroo next to the blue and yellow flag of his country and the words “United with Ukraine.”
Since Russia’s deadly invasion started in February, Australia has been a steadfast friend of Ukraine, contributing millions of euros in military and humanitarian relief.
The Australian Prime Minister had just returned from a week-long trip to Europe, where he had attended the NATO Summit in Madrid, when he decided to stop in the war-torn nation of Eastern Europe.
During the visit, Mr. Albanese committed to help Ukraine even more and to impose stricter sanctions on Russia.
As part of a $100 million military aid package, Australia will give 34 more armoured vehicles to Ukraine and ban the import of Russian gold.
There will be 20 Bushmasters and 14 armoured personnel carriers among the vehicles.
Mr. Albanese announced that Australia would also impose travel restrictions and sanctions on 16 additional Russian ministries and oligarchs while speaking in Kyiv with President Zelenskiy.
With this, there are now 843 Russians who have been subject to Australian sanctions.
Australia will also provide managerial tools to help Ukraine’s border guard force improve field operations.
In a message to the Ukrainian president, Mr. Albanese said, “Australia stands ready to continue supporting the government and people of Ukraine for as long as it takes for Ukraine to prevail in defending your national sovereignty and your homeland.”
“Because you are working for the international rule of law, you are fighting for the respect and orderly operation of the international laws by which we do our activities,”
Mr. Zelensky expressed his gratitude to Australia for their help.
To stop Russia’s propensity for aggression, Mr Zelenskiy added, “We must boost international cooperation.”
“We need to put more pressure on the aggressor through sanctions.”
There are still around 2000 communities in Ukraine’s east and south that need to be freed.
Australia accepted my invitation to help with the post-war reconstruction, and I am appreciative of their readiness to help with the execution of such an enormous undertaking.
The first Australian M777 howitzers bearing the United with Ukraine kangaroo branding—the same emblem the Ukrainian president wore during his meeting with Mr. Albanese—arrived in Ukraine in April.
Last month, Ukrainian soldiers praised Australian assistance, especially the Bushmasters, and pleaded for the shipment of more Australian machinery.
The 11-ton Bushmaster, sometimes known as “The Bushy,” is an armoured military vehicle that can transport up to 10 men to the front lines.
The 20 vehicles that had been dispatched to Ukraine initially underwent re-fitting after operating in Afghanistan and disaster relief areas.
They were repainted an olive green colour with stencilled designs of the Ukrainian flag, the words “United with Ukraine” in both English and Ukrainian, and an image of a kangaroo bounding next to a Ukrainian flag.