Australia will send 20 Bushmaster armored vehicles to Ukraine, officials confirmed Friday, after a direct request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in his address to the Australian parliament last week.
The first three Australian-made armored personnel carriers departed Australia for Europe on Friday aboard a military transport aircraft, with Russia’s war in Ukraine now in its seventh week.
“The Bushmaster is well suited to provide protection to the Ukrainian Armed Forces soldiers and Ukrainian civilians against mines and improvised explosive devices, shrapnel from artillery and small arms fire,” said Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Peter Dutton in a joint statement.
The gift, worth some AU$50 million ($37 million), was bolstered by a further commitment of anti-armor weapons and ammunitions to the tune of AU$26.5 million later Friday, bringing Australia’s total military assistance to Ukraine to around AU$191.5 million.
The 20 vehicles have been painted olive green to suit the environment in Ukraine and will be equipped with radios, a GPS and additional bolt-on armor for increased protection.
Except for two ambulance variants bearing the traditional Red Cross emblem, the vehicles have been painted on either side with the Ukrainian flag and the words “United with Ukraine” stenciled in English and Ukrainian in a show of solidarity.
“Australia may be thousands of kilometers away, but we’re standing side by side with Ukraine against this illegal invasion with arms, equipment, aid and even energy sources,” Morrison and Dutton said in a separate statement.
The remaining 17 vehicles will make their way to Ukraine over the next few weeks, Dutton told reporters.
Some AU$65 million in humanitarian assistance has also been provided by Canberra to date.
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