Australia will meet the Ukrainian president’s direct request for a score of Bushmaster vehicles, including two ambulance variants.
Last month President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made the appeal in an address to the Australian parliament.
On Friday, prime minister Scott Morrison confirmed 20 protected mobility vehicles, designed to safely move soldiers to a battle area prior to dismounting for close combat, would be sent to Ukraine.
“Australia stands with the government and people of Ukraine, and calls on Russia to cease its unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine,” Morrison said in a joint statement with defence minister Peter Dutton.
“[We] will continue to take steps, together with our partners, to ensure Russia pays the highest possible price for its actions.”
Radios, a global positioning system and additional bolt-on armour will be fitted on the Australian vehicles, and the Australian army will develop a logistics support package and training video with Ukrainian subtitles.
The PM added the vehicles would be painted olive green for the ‘operating environment’ they were being sent to and also have the words ‘United with Ukraine’ painted on each side of the Bushmasters with the Ukrainian flag. The ambulances will feature a traditional Red Cross emblem.
“The government will not disclose further specific details of delivery arrangements at the direct request of Ukrainian officials and our other partners,” Morrison said.
The vehicles bring Australia’s defensive military aid to Ukraine (since Moscow’s violent military assault on its neighbouring nation) to $165 million. This is on top of $65 million in humanitarian assistance for the people of Ukraine, with a focus on protecting women, children and the elderly, including supplying food, shelter and emergency medical supplies.
An additional donation of 70,000 tonnes of coal has also been donated to Ukraine’s resistance.
“The Australian government will continue to identify opportunities for further defensive military assistance where it is able to provide a required capability to the Ukraine Armed Forces expeditiously,” Morrison said.