• Sat. Mar 4th, 2023

Pat Conroy says Australia will support Ukraine for “as long as we’re needed”

Australia’s support for Ukraine will not waiver until the war with Russia is over, an Albanese government minister said.

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy reaffirmed Australia’s commitment to supporting Ukrainian troops against Russian forces that invaded just over a year ago.

Australia has sent 90 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles to Ukraine, has 70 Defence Force personnel in the UK training Ukrainian soldiers and has committed hundreds of millions of dollars to aid in the struggle against Russia.

“We will be there as long as we’re needed, the simple answer, but it’s the truth,” Mr Conroy said on ABC TV’s QandA program.

“We will be there as long as it takes because this struggle is not just Ukraine versus Russia but a struggle for international rules based order, freedom and freedom from aggression.”

But Mr Conroy was less forthcoming on returning Australia’s ambassador to Ukraine to the country’s capital of Kyiv, which President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for as recently as last week.

“This is something that we’re constantly reviewing, it’s a really complex, challenging area,” he said.

The ambassador was relocated to Poland just before the Russian invasion and remains in Warsaw due to “operational, logistic and safety” reasons, Mr Conroy said.

But former coalition attorney-general and Australian High Commissioner to the United Kingdom George Brandis said there was “no excuse” not to reinstate the ambassador to Kyiv.

“Most of those countries (who withdrew their ambassadors) have sent their ambassadors back in and President Zelensky asked that we send our ambassador back into Kyiv as most of the countries that withdrew did,” he said.

“Now, in Australia’s case, in particular, there’s just no excuse for not sending the ambassador and the DFAT personnel back in.

“The Australian embassy in Kyiv was co-located with the Canadian Embassy. The Canadians are back in.”

Ukraine Ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, reiterated his president’s desire for the Australian embassy to be reinstituted, and thanked Australia for its ongoing support.

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