Australia is considering a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to provide military training support against the Russian invasion.
Australia, the largest non-NATO contributor of military aid to Ukraine, has sent missiles and armored personnel carriers as well as humanitarian supplies. Australia has already imposed sweeping sanctions on Russian institutions and its political and military leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the wake of deadly missile attacks in Ukraine by Russia, Australian officials said it was clear that the conflict would be “protracted” and that the Canberra government was “working on how we stand with Ukraine over the long term.”
Since February, Australia has granted visas to about 9,000 Ukrainian refugees. Russia has responded by placing Australia and other European nations, the United States, Japan and South Korea, on a list of “unfriendly countries.”
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. Wednesday that any military training authorized by the Canberra government would only happen outside of Ukraine’s borders.
“We are the largest non-NATO contributor [to Ukraine]. The suggestion is not going into Ukraine,” said Albanese. “The suggestion is whether Australians could provide support for training in Europe and we will give consideration to that, as we will give consideration to the other requests.”
The move would be supported by opposition lawmakers in Canberra. However, opposition leader Peter Dutton warned that any deployment of Australian forces into Ukraine would be “a provocative act.”
In a statement Monday, activists from the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organizations again called on Canberra to declare the “Russian government, armed forces and FSB, (the) secret service organization, terrorist organizations under Australian law.”
Ukrainian groups have this week attended peace rallies in Hobart, Melbourne and Sydney. Demonstrators are Thursday gathering outside of the Russian Embassy in Canberra.
They want the international community to do more to stop the war.
The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations’ Stefan Romaniw said in a statement Monday that “current sanctions [against Russia] have failed to stop the slaughter.”