Abbott slams Albanese at Kyiv event over lack of new support for Ukraine
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Tony Abbott has criticised the Albanese government for failing to deliver new military aid to Ukraine and the failure to reinstate Australia’s ambassador in Kyiv.
The former prime minister was regularly applauded as he addressed the Kyiv Security Forum in Ukraine on Thursday.
Former PM Tony Abbott addresses the Kyiv Security Forum.Credit: YouTube/KSF
He is the first of Australia’s former prime ministers to visit the city since Vladimir Putin’s full-scale invasion of the country began in February last year.
The first round of applause came after he detailed the rigorous travel schedule involved to speak in Kyiv that included a 24-hour flight, a six-hour drive and a 12-hour train ride to get to Kyiv and said he’d gladly do it all “again and again” to salute the Ukrainian heroes on the “frontline of freedom”.
He was also applauded when he said that he believed Prime Minister Anthony Albanese would announce new military aid for Ukraine at the July NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania – a gathering Albanese had previously intended to skip.
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko has launched a campaign for Australian Hawkei vehicles on top of the 90 Bushmasters given to Ukraine last year.
Abbott praised that support, as well as the military training of Ukrainians being conducted by Australians alongside Western allies in Britain.
“But unfortunately, there’s been nothing since then, no more Bushmasters, even though we still have about a thousand in stock,” Abbott said.
“None of the Hawkei light-armoured cars that the Ukrainians want to use as mobile missile launchers even though we’ve a thousand of them in stock too.
“I know that the Australian government wants us to remain Ukraine’s best friend in Asia and I’m confident that the Prime Minister Albanese won’t go to the coming NATO summit without a big new arms package to help keep Ukrainian soldiers alive as they seek to reclaim their homes.”
Abbott savaged the decision to keep Australian ambassador Bruce Edwards in Warsaw, Poland, despite all Western allies reinstating their diplomatic embassies in Kyiv in a show of support and solidarity.
On the one-year anniversary of the invasion, Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky directly pleaded with Australia’s diplomats to return to the Ukrainian capital.
“I do expect that our ambassador will swiftly return to Kyiv, from Warsaw, as it’s so out of character for Australians to huddle in safety when there’s work to be done,” he said.
He said that Ukraine was fighting for all smaller nations threatened by dictators, and cited Taiwan as an example.
“There’s not the slightest doubt that Beijing is watching what happens here, weighing what it might do across the Taiwan Strait,” he said.
“In that sense, Ukrainians are fighting not just for their own freedom but for the freedom of every smaller nation threatened by a larger neighbour.”
Abbott was Prime Minister when flight MH17 was shot down over eastern Ukraine by three pro-Russian separatists killing all 298 souls on-board including 38 Australians.
“For me, Putin’s war on Ukraine has long been personal,” he said. “And I have never ceased to thirst for justice for those Australians cast into eternity because the Russian dictator could not bear to see an independent Ukraine.
“I have never ceased to want freedom and democracy for Ukraine, a country yearning to be rid of the bondage of Moscow.”
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