Australia will send anti-tank missiles and bullets to Ukraine in another package of support worth $26.5million.
The latest package will bring Australia’s total military assistance to date to $191.5million.
Australia will send anti-tank missiles and bullets to Ukraine in another package of support worth $26.5million. Pictured: Scott Morrison on Friday
Mr Morrison said the exact contents would be kept secret so the Russian invaders do not know what’s coming.
‘The Government will not disclose specific details of the new package, or delivery arrangements, at the direct request of Ukrainian officials and our other partners,’ he said in a statement.
‘Australia may be thousands of kilometres away but we’re standing side by side with Ukraine against this illegal invasion with arms, equipment, aid and even energy sources,’ he added.
‘This fight is important because not only are Ukrainian lives and their lands at stake, but so are the principles of freedom and the rule of law.
‘Australia stands with the people of Ukraine, and again calls on Russia to cease its unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine.’
Australia is one of the first countries to provide combat vehicle support to Ukraine as the Russian invasion enters its seventh week.
The $50million worth of armoured vehicles being sent have been repainted olive green with Ukraine’s flag stencilled on each side.
The first Bushmaster PMV is loaded into a C-17 Globemaster aircraft headed for Ukraine following the federal government announcement
Ukraine Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko thanks Major General Scott Winter after Australia announced $50million worth of military vehicles will be sent to the Ukraine
Australia is one of the first countries to provide combat vehicle support to Ukraine (pictured is a vehicle being repainted)
The words ‘United with Ukraine’ are also emblazoned on the vehicles in both English Ukrainian in a pledge of solidarity.
The vehicles have been fitted with radios, a global positioning system and additional bolt-on armour, along with protection against mines, artillery shrapnel and small arms fire.
‘Australia may be thousands of kilometres away but we’re standing side by side with Ukraine against this illegal invasion with arms, equipment, aid and even energy sources,’ Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.
‘Once again Ukraine has asked for our help and once again we have stepped up.’
‘Our Australian-designed and made Bushmasters are known around the world for their usefulness in a combat zone and they will help boost Ukraine’s defence against Russia’s unprovoked and illegal violence.
‘This fight is important because not only are Ukrainian lives and their lands at stake, but so are the principles of freedom and the rule of law.’
Two ambulatory vehicles (one pictured on Friday) are among 20 retired Bushmaster PMVs which were repainted and refitted to be used in the Ukraine
Defence Minister Peter Dutton, Ukraine Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko and Major General Scott Winter checked out the first convoy of Bushmaster PMVs now on their to the Ukraine
The combat vehicles (pictured being refitted) will provide support to Ukraine in its ongoing war with Russia
The military support is the result of a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy after he addressed federal parliament a week ago.
It’s on top of almost $120million in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
The retired Bushmasters previously been used by Australian forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and disaster zones at home.
‘It is one of the world leading vehicles and it provides protection to the crew that are onboard that,’ defence minister Peter Dutton told the Today show on Friday.
‘It will be a big win for the Ukrainian forces in their attempts to stare down the barbaric efforts of the Russian forces.’
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison and more than 200 other Australian officials have been banned from entering Russia.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton (pictured left with Ukraine Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko) inspected the vhicles before the first convoy left Brisbane
The first of the armoured vehicles will make their way from Brisbane RAAF Base Amberley to Ukraine on Friday
The ban is in response to foreign minister Marise Payne declared Australia will take action against 67 elites linked to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a new round of sanctions.
Mr Dutton said Australia will continue to stand with Ukraine again tyranny and autocrats.
‘People have fought and died for the freedoms that we have in our country. We need to realise we just can’t take for granted what we have – our system of democracy and freedom of speech,’ he said.
‘These are values that dictators like Putin and Hitler and others will always be against. We need to stand up against them.’
The Ukrainian flag is painted on each side of every vehicle, along with a special message written in English and Ukrainian
Why Ukraine is DESPERATE for Australian made troop carriers to take on the Russians – so what’s so special about the famed Bushmasters that even Americans are jealous of?
Australia’s famed Bushmaster military vehicles will be shipped to Ukraine following a plea from the nation’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Mr Zelensky specifically requested the Bushmasters during a historic address to Federal Parliament on Thursday when he appealed for further international aid.
Morrison said the vehicles will be flown the 9,000 miles (14,000km) to Kyiv on Boeing C-17 Globemaster transport planes. He later said four Bushmasters would be sent.
President Volodymyr Zelensky (pictured) specifically requested the Bushmaster while appealing for further international aid on Thursday
The Bushmaster (pictured) is an 11-tonne armoured military vehicle designed to carry and deploy up to ten soldiers onto the battlefield
What is the Bushmaster?
The Bushmaster Protected Military Vehicle (PMV) – or Infantry Mobility Vehicle – is an Australian built, four-wheel drive armoured vehicle that has seen action in several wars.
Nicknamed ‘The Bushy,’ the PMV is designed to transport troops safely through war zones and to deploy them on the front-lines.
- First produced: 1997
- Number built: 1,195
- Cost: $500,000 (AUD)
- Crew: 1 driver, 9 passengers
- Weight: 11 – 15 tonnes
- Designed by: Australian Defence Industries (ADI)
- Currently produced by: Thales Australia (formerly ADI)
- Used in: War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, East Timor, Golan Heights, Iraqi Civil War, Syrian Civil War, Northern Mali Conflict
- Used by: Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Fiji, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, The Netherlands. (Several others, including the United States , France and Spain, have expressed an interest)
- Variants: Several versions of ‘The Bushy’ have been produced. These include: Troop, Command, Air Defence, Ambulance, Assault Pioneer, Mortar variant, Direct Fire Weapons, General Maintenance.
The Bushmaster, nicknamed ‘The Bushy’, is an 11-tonne armoured military vehicle designed to carry and deploy up to 10 soldiers on to the battlefield.
The four-wheel-drive vehicles are built to withstand any environment and protect troops from bomb blasts, and were widely used by the Australian Defence Force during the conflict in Afghanistan.
The Bushmaster can carry mortars and other heavier weapons, and can also be equipped with machine guns and other military equipment.
It can also carry enough fuel and supplies to operate for three days without resupply and has a central tyre inflation system allowing it to function with punctures.
The vehicle’s design means it can serve a variety of roles, including as an ambulance, giving it a fierce reputation amongst Coalition forces in the Middle East with even American troops praising the vehicles.
Mr Morrison has not revealed how many Bushmasters he will ship off or when they will head to Ukraine.
‘We are not just sending our prayers, we are sending our guns, ammunitions, humanitarian aid, all of this, our body armour, all of these things,’ he said.
‘We will send out armoured vehicles, Bushmasters as well and we will fly them over there in our C-17s to make sure they can be there to support.’
Mr Zelensky addressed the Australian parliament on Thursday, warning Russian aggression posed a direct threat to Australia and asking for tanks.
‘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,’ he told the parliament.
‘If you have an opportunity to share these with us, we would be very grateful. In Ukraine, they will do much more for our common freedom and common security than staying parked on your land.’
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks before an address by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday
The vehicle’s design means it can serve a variety of other roles, including as an ambulance (pictured, Bushmaster armoured vehicle’s prepare for deployment to assist flooded communities in March 2022)
Australia’s Defence Minister Peter Dutton said they were reviewing the number of Bushmasters available and the logistics of sending them to Ukraine in the quantity needed, saying the government was ‘pretty much open to whatever support we can’.
‘The number they need obviously takes longer than what will be ideal. We have identified Bushmasters that we can send and we are going through the logistics of that now,’ he told Sky News.
‘We might only be able to upload three or four Bushmasters onto a C17 (military transport aircraft) at once. The other option is we can try and source something out of Germany or France or somewhere else in Europe.’
The defence minister noted timelines did not allow for the usual process of sending the vehicles by ship.
The federal government also announced a further $25 million in defensive military equipment for the besieged nation ahead of Mr Zelenskiy’s address.
The package includes tactical decoys, unmanned aerial and ground systems, rations and medical supplies.
Mr Morrison used his opening remarks to the address to brand Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal.
Australia will send Bushmasters (pictured) to Ukraine following a request by the war-torn nation’s president Volodymyr Zelensky
‘Ukraine and Australia are separated by half the earth. Our languages, accents, histories and cultures are different but we share an affinity for democracy or freedom,’ Mr Morrison told the president and the parliament.
‘Mr President, you have our praise. But you also have our weapons, our humanitarian aid, our sanctions against those who seek to deny your freedom.’
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese likened Russia’s invasion to the devastation wrought by Hitler in World War II, saying Putin’s aggression was prefaced by a ‘poisonous, nationalistic lie’.
‘As you stand up to this latest tyrant, you are showing us what true courage is,’ Mr Albanese said. ‘It is the courage that is embodied by you (President Zelenskiy). You are fighting for your country and your people.’
Zelensky has been tailoring his message to individual countries through video appeals like the one shown to legislators in the Australian Parliament. Lawmakers gave him standing ovation at the start and end of his 16-minute address.
He also called for tougher sanctions and for Russian vessels to be banned from international ports.
‘We need more sanctions against Russia, powerful sanctions until they stop blackmailing other countries with their nuclear missiles,’ Zelenskyy said through an interpreter.
While the Ukrainian capital Kyiv is 15,000 kilometers (9,300 miles) from the Australian capital Canberra, Zelenskyy said Australia was not safe from the conflict which threatened to escalate into a nuclear war.
Pictured: Australian members of Parliament give Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (on screen) a standing ovation as he addresses the House of Representatives via video-link, at Parliament House in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia, 31 March 2022
He suggested that a Russian victory over Ukraine would embolden China to declare war on Taiwan.
‘The most terrible thing is that if we don’t stop Russia now, if we don’t hold Russia accountable, then some other countries of the world who are looking forward to similar wars against their neighbors will decide that such things are possible for them as well,’ Zelenskyy said.
Zelenskyy also said Russia would not have invaded Ukraine if Moscow had been punished for the 2014 downing of a Malaysia Airlines plane in Ukraine.
Australia has already promised or provided Ukraine with $91 million in military assistance, AU$65 million in humanitarian help and 70,000 metric tons of coal.
Earlier Thursday, the government announced Australia was imposing an additional 35 percent tariff on all imports from Russia and Belarus starting April 25.
Oil and energy imports from Russia will be banned from that date. Exports to Russia of Australian aluminum ore will also be banned.
Sanctions have been imposed on more than 500 individuals and entities in Russia and Belarus. The sanctions cover 80 percent of the Russian banking sector and all government entities that handle Russian sovereign debt.
Two weeks ago, the Australian and Dutch governments launched a legal case against Russia at the International Civil Aviation Organization to hold Moscow accountable for its alleged role in the missile strike that killed all 298 people on MH17.
Of the victims, 196 were Dutch citizens and 38 were Australian residents.