Diplomatic relations between Australia and Ukraine can be traced to eighty-one years ago, in 1942. However, the recent turmoil has altered world politics significantly. The Russia-Ukraine war has started carving out new nations of political allegiance and resistance. In this context, is Australia aligned with Ukraine?
To understand the present relations between these two countries, we will discuss the various political, social, and financial ties between Australia and Ukraine. We will also weigh upon the impact of the Russia-Ukraine war on Australia.
Australia and Ukraine have been friends since 1942. Ukraine opened an embassy in Australia in 2003. Australia did the same in Ukraine in 2014. However, due to Russia’s attack on Ukraine, Australia closed its embassy in 2022.
The earliest relations date back to 1894. Ukraine was a part of the then-Russian empire. A counsellor of Russian foreign affairs was sent to Australia.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, Australia favoured Ukraine to recognize it as a Commonwealth State. Moreover, Ukrainians also migrated to Australia in 1860. After World War II, the migrations increased. In 2016, 13,366 Ukrainians were living in Australia.
In terms of trade, their relationship is mutually beneficial. Australia exported merchandise worth 29.8 million dollars to Ukraine in 2017. Ukraine, too, exported cooking oil and fats. However, the highlight was signing the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between both nations. It allowed Australia to export uranium to generate power.
Despite the war, the relationship between both nations has been cordial. Australia has lent a hand of generosity to Ukraine during the crises.
2. Conflict between Ukraine and Russia
Before analyzing the allies, look at events that led to the Russia-Ukraine war. Most people would be shocked to hear that the Russia-Ukraine war started in 2014.
It all began with the capture of Crimea in 2014. When Ukraine’s Russian-supported president lost the elections in 2014, it was a significant defeat for Russia. This was the start of the ongoing 8-year-long conflict.
Russia didn’t want NATO to influence Ukraine. Russia never wanted Ukraine to be a nation of its own. It even considers Ukraine as its part. Russian leaders completely disregard that Ukraine is a sovereign country.
Since the annexation of Crimea, the war finally started taking a dangerous turn in early 2021. Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, wanted US President Joe Biden to give Ukraine a pass to join the NATO forces. Russia was triggered and sent Russian troops to the Ukranian border as a “warning.”
2.1 Russia’s Full-Blown Invasion of Ukraine
However, in early 2022, Russia launched a full-blown invasion of Ukraine with air missiles. After that, they sent the Russian military to fight on borders and push further into the cities of Ukraine.
Now, the main motive of the full-scale invasion is thought of as the Kremlin’s preference for NATO post-Cold War. Moreover, Vladimir Putin argues that the United States and NATO repeatedly violated the treaty by not expanding the alliance to the former Soviet Union.
At the 2008 NATO summit, Putin declared that “steps towards bringing Ukraine into NATO” would be hostile towards Russia. These facts show that Putin had apprehensions regarding Ukraine’s advancement as a Western democracy. It would be seen as a threat to Russia’s influence over Eastern Europe.
According to experts, with the invasion of Ukraine, Putin wants the whole of Eurasia to reconsider democracy. He ultimately wants Western influence out of Ukraine and other neighbouring countries.
3. Australia’s Response
Right from the beginning of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, Australia was always firm in its support of Ukraine. On the front, they provided immediate financial, humanitarian, and military assistance to the people and Government of Ukraine.
3.1 Condemnation and Support
Ukraine’s invasion is entirely against international law. Australia openly condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 24th February 2023 marked one year of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Australian government promised Ukraine an Uncrewed Aerial System (UAS). Australia also has given battlefield intel and surveillance technology to the Ukrainian Army to fight off Russia’s invasion.
3.2 Sanctions on Russia
Australia also said it would sanction various enterprises and individuals in activities facilitating economic and strategic importance to Russia. The sanctions include Kalashnikov, Admiralty Shipyards, and Tupolev Aviation Company.
It also already imposed more than 1000 sanctions in response to the Ukraine invasion. These include targeted financial and travel on 90 persons and economic sanctions on 40 entities. Also, it has taken appropriate measures against those helping continue the war.
3.3 Military Aid Package
Furthermore, the Australian prime minister announced a military package worth $110 million to Ukraine. Australia will also send 70 military vehicles to Ukraine, including 26 armoured vehicles. It would also send artillery ammunition for combat in the war against Russia.
The Australian prime minister has also pledged 33 million dollars worth of drone systems. He also declared that Australia would provide additional support to Ukraine every four months.
3.4 Future Support and Commitments
One hundred twenty bushmaster vehicles, too, have been committed by the Australian government to Ukraine. These efforts by the Australian government ensure their firm support for Ukraine. The Australian Prime Minister still acknowledges that there’s room for more support and promised to work on it.
3.5 Military Support to Ukraine
Most of the Australian Government’s military assistance has been from the defence’s stock. They offered around $70 million in lethal military aid to support Ukraine, including missiles and weapons. They also provided a range of non-lethal military equipment and medical supplies. The deadly help included ammunition, grenades, machine guns, etc. The non-lethal equipment included drones, cold weather clothing, rations, etc.
Further, 58 items that cost 38.4 million were transferred to the Ukrainian government. They were not mentioned in the letter the Australian Government gave to the Ukrainian Government.
3.6 Additional Aid
The Australian government also helped the Ukraine crisis in many other ways. They provided:
- Humanitarian Assistance of 65 million dollars AUD.
- Seventy thousand tonnes of thermal coal to provide energy security to Ukraine.
- 8.7 million Australian Dollars to help Ukrainian Border Guards.
- Radiation detection equipment worth AUD 686,000 through the International Atomic Energy Agency.
- Two hundred thousand Australian Dollars to the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.
- Over 9,500 visas to Ukrainians.
In addition, Australia also banned the import of oil, petroleum, coal, and gas from Russia. They also introduced an additional tariff of 35% on imports from Russia.
Moreover, the Australian government provided support on an international level too. They said they would support the International Criminal Court’s investigation into the war crime committed by Russia. Furthermore, they intervened in the Court of Justice internationally in favour of Ukraine’s case against Russia.
4. Australian Prime Minister’s Meeting with Zelenskyy
On 4th July 2022, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese was present in Kyiv. There, he talked with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. At the request of the prime minister of Ukraine, he declared a new package of:
- A $99.5 million in military assistance, including 34 protected mobility vehicles, to be supplied by Australia’s defence industry
- Duty-free access for Ukrainian imports to Australia
- Australia would ban the import of Russian gold to reduce Russian funds for the war.
Apart from the governmental efforts, the Australian public has been generous in supporting affected people in Ukraine. Enough funds were and are being raised for emergency food, shelter, and vital medical assistance.
5. International Humanitarian Assistance
Various non-profit organizations continue working hard to provide humanitarian support to the people impacted by the war. Some of these include:
- Amnesty International
They provide immediate lifesaving crisis services in Ukraine.
- Australian Red Cross
They launched a fundraiser and long-term support for the Ukraine invasion.
- Be Kind Sydney
It received and provided shelter to people since the start of the war.
They provided displaced rural and urban people in Ukraine with water, hygiene, and psychological care.
Moreover, the Government Of Australia also allocated funds for humanitarian assistance. Thirty million dollars were immediately released as a humanitarian fund when the war started. Moreover, $8 million was given to the United Nations Population Fund to protect displaced women and girls from gender-based violence.
An amount of AUD 10 million was given to the World Food Programme by the Australian government to counter food shortages.
6. The United Kingdom-Australia Alliance
Australia also partnered with the UK to provide humanitarian assistance to people in Ukraine. This relief involved the UK providing deliveries, with Australia contributing funding and organizing to support Ukraine. This ensured the swift arrival of aid to Ukraine.
Also, 70 ADF personnel went from Australia to the UK to train Ukraine’s army in the early days of the war. They taught them how to manoeuvre, defend and operate on urban battlefields.
The Ukrainian people were mainly taught about gunshot wounds and blast wounds. Self-aid is most important on a battlefield. Moreover, this mission was a 5-week boot camp to ensure ordinary people had the minimum military training in a war-torn country. It was a monumental challenge and was achieved accordingly.
7. The Willpower of Ukrainian People
Despite being a less powerful nation than the Russians, Ukraine showed courage. After the Russian forces overran the military, the ordinary citizens of Ukraine came forward and fought. They trained, and within weeks, they were ready to fight.
With courage through training or rallies, Ukrainians showed strong willpower. The more Russian forces fought, the more the Ukrainians resisted.
Therefore, the answer to the ‘Are Australia and Ukraine Allies,’ is pretty evident. Australia continues to stand firmly with Ukraine and is transparent with its policies. It wants this conflict to end for good.
With strict sanctions and continuous funding to stop the war, Australia shows clear signs to Russia that they want global peace. After all, wars and invasions are never a solution to any problem.
War would never be a solution. It only brings destruction and havoc. Every country should unite against the elements who want to disturb world peace. Just like Australia, many other countries have come forward through their actions to show resistance to Russia’s policies. It would be the combined effort of all the nations that would be required to stop this war.
If only war had been the answer, there would never have been a second world war. In the end, it doesn’t end well for everyone that is involved.
Only with the combined efforts of NATO member nations and all the world’s democracies can this war be stopped. It might just save the world from another world war.
I am a physics graduate who loves to travel , explore and learn new things. Through my knowledge of physics, and sciences in general I am able to relate various things that the general public can’t. I share my experiences with the world by writing them as blog posts and articles. Being a keen observer ,I often write things that many people fail to notice.