Australia commits $70m to support the Ukrainian resistance
The Morrison government has signed off on some $70m to supply the Ukrainian resistance with weapons, including missiles and ammunition.
Scott Morrison confirmed the funding commitment after a meeting of the national security committee of cabinet on Tuesday as the Russia-Ukraine conflict continues.
“We will be committing $50 million USD to support lethal and non-lethal ammunition. The overwhelming majority of that will be in the lethal category,” Mr Morrison told reporters in Canberra.
Mr Morrison refused to be drawn on the specifics of the funding, including how the weapons would be transported to Ukraine.
“We will be doing that in partnership with NATO. I’m not going to go into the specifics of that because I don’t plan to give the Russian government a heads up of what's coming there,” he said.
Mr Morrison said Australia was answering the call of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who now famously turned down a US offer to evacuate him from Kyiv by saying he needed ammunition rather than “a ride”.
More than 100 Ukrainian civilians are said to have died since Russian President Vladimir Putin launched a military offensive targeting the smaller nation late last week.
Australia’s pledge of financial military aid follows broad economic sanctions imposed on Russia by Western allies.
Mr Morrison also announced an “initial contribution” of $US25m ($A34m) in humanitarian support for international organisations that are working to provide displaced people with water, food, shelter and education.
He said Australia was receiving about 100 visa applications each day from people in Ukraine that were being processed as a “top priority”.
“Their visa applications (are) across the entire migration program, so they offer temporary visas on skills, education visas, family reunion visas and getting the stamp. They can come to Australia,” he said.
However, Mr Morrison said he had “no doubt” some people would be seeking temporary refuge in Australia who would want to return to Ukraine.
“We shouldn't make the mistake to think every person who is seeking to leave Ukraine doesn’t want to return to their home country,” he said.
“But for those to whom that won’t be an option, we will continue to provide support through our migration program through the mainstream program.”
Russian troops continue their advance into Ukraine after officials from both nations wrapped up their first day of peace talks on Monday without a breakthrough.
Originally published as Australia commits $70m to support the Ukrainian resistance
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