Australia gives Ukraine $250 million in military aid at NATO


Australia’s $250 million package takes total Australian military assistance to Ukraine to more than $1.1 billion. The government declined to publicise the amount or exact type of weaponry it is providing, saying this could benefit Russia.

But in broad terms, the new aid includes: air defence missiles, air-to-ground weapons (including guided weapons), anti-tank weapons, artillery, cannon and small arms ammunition.

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office in 2023.

US President Joe Biden shakes hands with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in the Oval Office in 2023.Credit: AP

Australia will also send boots for Ukraine’s armed forces, and the country will join NATO’s new security and training initiative for Ukraine as an operational partner. This means Australian personnel will be able to contribute to NATO-led military activity and planning.

Deputy Prime Minister Marles is in Washington in the absence of Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, who has been criticised by the Coalition for not attending the NATO summit at a time of geopolitical turmoil.

In their most serious rebuke against Beijing, NATO allies this week called China a “decisive enabler” of Russia’s war against Ukraine and expressed concerns over Beijing’s nuclear arsenal and its capabilities in space.

The sternly worded final communique, approved by the 32 NATO members, makes clear that China is becoming a focus of the military alliance. The European and North American members and their partners in the Indo-Pacific increasingly see shared security concerns related to Russia and its Asian supporters, especially China.

Beijing insists it does not provide military aid to Russia but has maintained strong trade ties with its northern neighbour throughout the conflict. It also accuses NATO of overreaching and inciting confrontation in the Indo-Pacific region.

In the communique, NATO member countries said China has become a war enabler through its “no-limits partnership” with Russia and its large-scale support for Russia’s defence industrial base.

The summit has also swung the spotlight on Joe Biden’s embattled leadership, as the 81-year-old US president seeks to assure world leaders about the future of the alliance and his own mental acuity following his alarming debate performance against Trump last month.

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As Biden fights for his political life, the likelihood of a second Trump presidency, and what it means for Ukraine, has been front of mind for leaders and diplomats who have descended on the US capital this week.

Biden’s political woes were also the hot topic of debate on the sidelines of the Australian-American Leadership Dialogue, which also took place in Washington this week and was attended by Marles, Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite, and opposition home affairs spokesman James Paterson.

The exclusive off-the-record annual gathering focuses on national security, cybersecurity, trade and defence.

Speaking shortly after he arrived in Washington, Marles threw his support behind Biden, praising the global alliances forged under his administration and the focus he has placed on the Indo-Pacific.

On the sidelines of the dialogue, Thistlethwaite acknowledged that the debate around the president’s viability as a candidate was something “you can’t avoid” in the US, but added: “That’s a matter for the American people.”

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with AP



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