A visit to Ukraine by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese would be “history in the making”, the country’s ambassador to Australia has said as he urges the Labor government to increase its supply of heavy weapons.
Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko acknowledged Ukraine was not a safe country as Russia hit civilian targets, but said Albanese had a chance to make history as Australia’s first prime minister to visit the country.
“My President [Volodymyr Zelensky] assured me that this Albanese Prime Minister would be welcome. He would be delighted to see it. He could show her around. And he would be truly honored to welcome her to Ukraine,” he told reporters in parliament.
Myroshnychenko noted that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Ukraine alongside Italian, German and French leaders.
“My parents are not safe, my mother-in-law is not safe, my close friends in Kyiv are not safe. No one is safe in Ukraine. This is the reality of war.
Zelensky would plead for more than arms and ammunition when he addressed the NATO summit in Madrid which Albanese is attending as part of a delegation of Asia-Pacific countries, including Japan, Korea South and New Zealand.
“We all understand that eventually Ukraine needs to get security guarantees. And because whatever conventions we signed, whatever multilateral agreements we participated in, Russia violated them,” Myroshnychenko said.
He wanted Australia to give Ukraine more weapons in addition to the 40 committed Bushmasters, 20 of which had arrived in Ukraine, as well as additional M113 armored personnel carriers dating from the Vietnam War than the ADF tried to replace.
Four of the 14 carriers are en route to Ukraine. Australia’s overall military aid, totaling more than $300 million, has made the country “very, very well regarded in Ukraine”, Myroshnychenko said.
“Everyone is very positively surprised by how Australia has been able to stand out and this war.
“Before, in the past, we were so far away that you didn’t often hear about Australia. But for the past three months, Australia has been in the headlines of Ukrainian newspapers.
The ambassador said Australia had “a huge stake in this war” which would have significant consequences for the prosperity and stability of the Indo-Pacific.
“It will be discussed in Madrid where all NATO member states will meet with allies Australia and New Zealand, Japan and Korea, we will be there to discuss the Indo-Pacific, discuss the posture of the China and how that may actually change depending on how this war unfolds.
He hoped that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would end this year. The cost of the war has been estimated at around $1 trillion, and the nation is expected to take a generation or two to recover.
Myroshnychenko has urged Australia to attend a Ukraine recovery conference in the Swiss city of Lugano on July 4-5.
“Russia deliberately destroyed our critical infrastructure because it now understands that it cannot invade the country. But they want to inflict as much damage as possible,” he said.
Myroshnychenko called Russia’s default on its foreign debt the beginning of the end of the dictatorship and said the Russian people were as guilty as President Vladimir Putin because many supported the invasion.
“It is the end of Russia as we know it. And it comes. It is only a matter of time because the damage Putin has done to Russia is enormous,” he said.
“A lot of people in Russia think Putin is too weak because he promised to crush Ukraine in three days. And in fact, three months later he hasn’t done much. And now, there is internal pressure.