Australia was quick to roll up its sleeves and stand in solidarity with Ukraine, imposing punitive sanctions against Russia, sending out special military gear to Ukrainian forces and now the country is collaborating with the United Kingdom to provide humanitarian aid.
The action has been swift and firm in its support for Ukraine, but how will Australia continue it in the long term?
Dr William A Stoltz, Senior Adviser for Public Policy at ANU National Security College said: “There’s something impressive about the way that Australia has moved quite quickly and unilaterally to put in place a really firm response against Russia… we weren’t waiting for a centralised approach led by the US.”
Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced last week Australia is working under the Australia-UK humanitarian partnership, where they will ensure “over 8,000 relief items, such as blankets, hygiene and kitchen sets, and lighting, reach displaced Ukrainians facing cold temperatures”.
The Morrison government declared they would send over $65 million in emergency humanitarian assistance.
The Australian government has quickly sent ammunition, military supplies, bushmaster armoured vehicles directly into Ukraine.
Within days of the conflict beginning, Australia donated $4 million to NATO’s Trust Fund for Ukraine contributing towards non-lethal military equipment and medical supplies. By mid-March, Australia announced it would contribute to the Ukrainian Armed Forces a further $21 million for military assistance.
Dr Stoltz said because Australia isn’t a member of NATO, there is more support they can provide in comparison to European countries who could potentially trigger escalation.
“The Australian government has quickly sent ammunition, military supplies, bushmaster armoured vehicles directly into Ukraine – these are options Australia can undertake in a fairly unilateral way,” he added.
While Australia does not trade largely with Russia, Scott Morrison exercises clear disapproval of Russia’s behaviour by imposing economic sanctions. The measures – “largely symbolic” are vital in order to create “no safe havens for Russian money”, said Dr Stoltz.
From April 25 the importation of oil, natural gas, refined petroleum products, and specified luxury goods from Russia will be prohibited. Australia has also sanctioned 350 individuals, including Russian oligarchs, military commanders, political leaders and journalists.
We don’t know exactly how this conflict will end, but it will end in some way shape or form.
The swift humanitarian, military and economic support indicate Australia’s dedication to Ukrainians. Yet how Australia will support Ukraine in the long term, is another conversation the government will need to consider.
High intakes of refugees and financially aiding the rebuilding of Ukrainian cities are the next steps Australia should take, said Dr Stoltz.
“We don’t know exactly how this conflict will end, but it will end in some way shape or form… so making sure Ukraine gets the financial support it needs to be rehabilitated as a country is really important.”
Main image of The Sydney Opera House illuminated with yellow and blue from February 28 to March 5, 2022, to show support for Ukraine. Credit: Robert Montgomery/Flickr