SYDNEY - Ukraine is urging Australia to increase its military aid ahead of a visit to Europe next week by Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong and Defense Minister Richard Marles.
Australia, the largest non-NATO contributor to Ukraine's war effort, has supplied missiles and Bushmaster armored personnel carriers. They have a special 'V'-shaped floor designed to spread the impact of an explosion more effectively than a conventional flat floor. A group of up to 70 Australian defense force personnel has also been stationed in Britain to help train Ukrainian troops.
Analysts say the commitment of Germany and the United States to deliver tanks to Ukraine puts pressure on Australia to increase its military assistance to Kyiv.
Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Ukraine's ambassador to Australia, told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. on Friday he hopes Canberra will boost military assistance to his country.
"Australia can choose to send more Bushmasters," he said. "What is important is that Australia continues supporting Ukraine. We are extremely thankful for what Australia has done so far, especially the last package, which was announced in October, where another 30 Bushmasters were allocated. The troops, which are now in Britain, will be training Ukrainian soldiers. We are thankful for that. it is really a big help."
The United States is by far the biggest provider of weapons and equipment to Ukraine, followed by Britain, Poland, Germany and Canada.
Australia also has sweeping sanctions on Russia -- the most severe ever imposed on a foreign government.
Since the war began almost a year ago, Australia has granted visas to almost 9,000 Ukrainian refugees.
Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has said Canberra condemns "Russia's unilateral, illegal and immoral aggression against the people of Ukraine," adding that the "invasion is a gross violation of international law."
Wong and Marles head to France next week to try to repair a diplomatic rift caused by Canberra's abrupt cancelation in 2021 of a lucrative submarine contract with Paris in favor of a new alliance -- the AUKUS pact -- with the United States and Britain.
They will also travel to Britain for ministerial talks.