Anthony Albanese in Ukraine: Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko thanks PM
Ukrainian Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko has thanked Anthony Albanese for making the trip to the nation’s capital of Kyiv, saying the Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky was “extremely happy to see him”.
Mr Myroshnychenko, who in June invited the Prime Minister to visit Ukraine after attending the NATO summit in Madrid, said the secret tour of three destroyed towns on Sunday was “not an easy one for him to make”, given logistics and security risks.
He said Mr Albanese had been welcomed “very warmly” by Mr Zelensky, with Australia pledging more than $100 million in military assistance and other aid to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia.
“I think it sends a very important signal to Russia to have the leaders of the western democracies visiting Ukraine and demonstrating their support,” Mr Myroshnychenko told ABC Radio on Monday.
“But with every trip, it’s not just solidarity, but it’s also assistance. It’s very important to make those trips, to be able to see what Russians have been doing in Ukraine (and) why Russia is so dangerous.
“I think it’s important that the world leaders see that with their own eyes.”
Mr Myroshnychenko praised Australia for “punching above its weight” to provide support to Ukraine — with Australia being the biggest non-NATO contributor to the country’s defence effort.
“My president said this is really amazing — that Australia has delivered so much, being so far from Ukraine, and everybody is really impressed at the support coming from Australia,” he said.
“President Zelenskiy was extremely happy to see him. He received him very warmly.”
Mr Albanese visited the towns of Bucha, Irpin and Hostomel under very tight security, before meeting with Mr Zelensky in Kyiv, describing what he saw as “devastating”.
“Here we have what — clearly a residential building,” Mr Albanese said.
“Another one just behind it. Brutally assaulted. You know, this is a war crime.”
The Prime Minister promised to step up sanctions against Russia and provide Ukraine with an additional 14 armoured personnel carriers, and 20 more Bushmaster vehicles and drones.
The $99.5 million top up is in addition to a previously announced $285 million in military assistance, which included 40 Bushmasters and artillery pieces and $65 million in humanitarian assistance.
Australia’s aid to Ukraine now equals about $390 million.
Mr Albanese announced a ban on imports of Russian gold and sanctions and travel bans on 16 more Russian ministers and oligarchs, bringing the total number to 843 individuals and 62 entities targeted.
“Russia’s brutal invasion is a gross violation of international law. I saw first-hand the devastation and trauma it has inflicted on the people of Ukraine,” the Prime Minister said.
“My visit to Kyiv and recent visits by other world leaders sends a clear message that democratic nations like Australia will stand side-by-side with the Ukrainian people in their time of need.
“President Zelenskyy’s leadership has rallied the Ukrainian people to defend their country and inspired the world to support humanity and freedom. The road ahead is hard but I am confident Ukraine will prevail.”
Mr Zelensky thanked his Australian counterpart for visiting his worn-torn country and for the support.
“Our defenders highly appreciated, in particular, the Australian Bushmaster armoured personnel carriers and other specific assistance from Australia,” he said.
“I am grateful to Australia for its firm, unyielding position on this issue.”
It comes after Mr Zelensky addressed Federal Parliament in Canberra in March in a special address via video link to ask for new sanctions against Russia while praising the “common understanding” with Australia.
This was three months after Ukraine was invaded by Russia in February.
Mr Albanese is set to return to Australia on Tuesday.
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