Bushmasters for Ukraine, after Zelenskyy asks for Australian armoured vehicles

By Tom Ravlic

April 1, 2022

Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy addresses the House of Representatives via a video link at Parliament House in Canberra, Thursday, March 31, 2022. (AAP Image/Pool, Alex Ellinghausen)

Australia will supply up to four Bushmaster armoured vehicles to Ukraine, after Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a specific request for them to help his country continue its fight against invading Russian forces.

The request from Zelenskyy was made during his address to the Australian parliament via video link last night. 

Following overnight deliberations, It was confirmed during senate estimates this morning that Australia will initially supply up to four of the vehicles in response to the request. Prime minister Scott Morrison has subsequently stated that Bushmasters will be sent to Ukraine.

In introducing the Ukrainian president last night, Morrison announced additional aid to Ukraine, which at that stage did not include the Bushmasters.

“Today, I announced an additional package of defensive military assistance to assist in the defence of your homeland, including tactical decoys, unmanned aerial and unmanned ground systems, rations and medical supplies,” Morrison said last night during a brief speech to welcome Ukraine’s president.

“Mr President, our pledge is that, when freedom prevails, Australia will help the people of Ukraine rebuild as well.”

Zelenskyy said Ukraine was grateful for the aid provided to Ukraine so far – including the 70,000 tonnes of coal provided by Australia for energy – but that there will be more assistance needed.

“We need new sanctions against Russia, powerful sanctions, until they stop blackmailing other countries with their nuclear missiles,” Zelenskyy said. “They have to pay the highest price for blocking the sea. No Russian vessel should be allowed in other international ports.”

He said any business dealings with Russia should be stopped in order to prevent dollars being spent on the destruction of people and destruction of global security.”

Zelenskyy said all available means by Russia to work around sanctions need to be stopped.

“What kind of sanctions are those if you can bypass them by using simple, non-cunning schemes?,” Zelenskyy said.

The Ukrainian president said it was necessary to ensure that those fighting “this evil” on the battlefield were armed and it was at this point in his speech he made the request for additional resources.

“For example, you have very good armoured vehicles, Bushmasters, that could help Ukraine substantially, and other pieces of equipment could strengthen our position in terms of armaments. If you have an opportunity to share these with us, we would be very grateful,” Zelensky said.

“In Ukraine, they will do much more for our common freedom and common security than staying parked on your land.”

Zelenskyy told Australian parliamentarians that the nature of the Russian aggression transcends the geographical distance that separates Australia and Ukraine. He said that the Russian aggression has become a threat to Australia.

“We are separated by oceans, seas, and territories of dozens of other countries and time zones. But there is no such thing as distance for the brutality and chaos that Russia brought to the east of Ukraine, into the region of our Black Sea and Azov Sea, to our Ukrainian land,” Zelenskyy said.

“Whatever is happening in our region because of the Russian aggression that is destroying the lives of people has become a real threat to your country and to your people as well, because this is the nature of evil. It can instantly cross any distance, any barriers, and destroy lives.”

Zelenskyy also referenced the downing of MH17 – the Malaysian aircraft – by Russian perpetrators that resulted in the death of 298 passengers, including with 38 Australians.

He said there has been no accountability for the shooting down of the aircraft and the failure to hold Russia to account means that “unpunished evil comes back with inspiration”.

“We don’t know how much longer it will take for at least one tragedy to have a proper response from the international community, from all of us—how many new tragedies Russia has created or will create. So the unpunished evil comes back,” Zelenskyy said.

Zelenskyy’s address to the Australian parliament was also preceded by a short welcome from Anthony Albanese, the leader of the opposition.

Albanese said what the world is currently seeing in the Russian aggression against Ukraine are echoes of the damage inflicted by the forces of Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.

“Vladimir Putin’s aggression in the name of a poisonous, nationalistic lie is abhorrent. Putin, and the regime that enables him, will be met with determination and escalating consequences if he continues to prosecute this illegal war,” he said.

“Putin’s attempt to divide the West has drawn us closer together and strengthened our commitment to our shared values, values that include the very freedom and sovereignty that rightfully belong to Ukraine.”


READ MORE:

The intellectual catastrophe of Vladimir Putin

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