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Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed the country will send Bushmaster armoured vehicles to Ukraine following a request from Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
The Ukrainian leader made his plea in an address to Australia's Parliament on Thursday (31 March), as troops in the country continue to fight off the Russian invasion ordered in February by Vladimir Putin.
Zelenskyy stressed his country was in need of further military aid, telling the Australian government: "We have to stop any intention from Russia to bypass sanctions; Most of all we have to keep the heroes fighting these people armed."
Now Zelensky, speaking through a translator.— Latika M Bourke (@latikambourke) March 31, 2022
Russia has NOT destroyed our essence or dream, dignity, freedom, independence.
Whatever is happening in our region has become a real threat to your country and to your people as well because this is the nature of evil. pic.twitter.com/0OadoJaQss
The president cited Australia's 'very good armed personal vehicles, Bushmasters', saying such equipment could 'help Ukraine substantially'. "If you have an opportunity to share this with us we would be very grateful," Zelenskyy said.
In the wake of his address, Morrison announced today (1 April) Australia would 'send out armoured vehicles', including Bushmasters.
A Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle is a blast-resistant vehicle designed to carry 10 soldiers and withstand all environments. They have previously been used by Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Morrison told a press conference the vehicles would be flown to Ukraine on C-17s, which are large military transport aircraft, to 'make sure they can be there to support'.
“I’ll be confirming those with the Ukrainian president. We've been in constant dialogue around a range of issues. You can anticipate the support will be greater," Morrison said.
Morrison did not clarify how many Bushmasters would be sent to eastern Europe, though Defence Minister Peter Dutton told Sky News earlier authorities were 'assessing the stocks of the Bushmasters overnight and what they’ve asked for and what’s practical just in terms of deliveries and the quickest timeline'.
He continued: "We’ve identified Bushmasters that we can send and we’re just going through logistics of that now whether we could get them there quickly enough.”
Dutton has also praised President Zelenskyy's address on Thursday, assuring Australia was 'very, very much open to the request'.
"I think of the inspiration that President Zelenskyy has provided to his own people and the world – he has brought Europe together in a way that was not possible before the war – we want to do whatever we can to help bring this war to an end," he said.
According to ABC News, retired Australian Army Lieutenant General Peter Leahy said Australia had more than 1,000 Bushmasters and that a number of them are 'surplus' to the country's army.
If you would like to donate to the Red Cross Emergency Appeal, which will help provide food, medicines and basic medical supplies, shelter and water to those in Ukraine, click here for more information
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