Australia said Friday it will send armored vehicles to Ukraine after a plea for much needed military aid from its president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, made during an address to the Australian Parliament.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told lawmakers in Australia by video link Thursday from Ukraine that those “fighting against evil” must be armed.
He urged Australia to send Bushmaster armored personnel carriers made by a French company, Thales, in the Victorian city of Bendigo. They are built to carry up to 10 soldiers safely through conflict zones. They have extensive ballistic protection and a V-shaped floor designed to disperse the blast of explosive devices more effectively than a conventional flat floor.
Defense Minister Peter Dutton said Friday that planning for the deliveries is under way, although Australian officials have not confirmed how many vehicles would be sent or when.
“We are doing work on just logistically how we would get the Bushmasters there in the numbers that they need,” he said. “Even on one of the huge planes you can probably only put three, maybe four. Normally, we would put them on a ship and they could sail, but I just do not think we have got those sort of timelines. So, we are very, very much open to the request.”
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has denounced “Russia’s brutal, illegal and unjustified invasion” of Ukraine.
Australia has already sent missiles and humanitarian supplies to Ukraine, now about a month into a war with Russia. Canberra has imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian politicians, military commanders and businesspeople. It will now impose a 35% tariff on imports from Russia and Belarus.
Morrison called the steps “the largest ever imposition of sanctions by Australia against a single country.”