Go to NATO summit, Ukraine’s ambassador urges Albanese

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London: Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, has urged Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to attend this year’s NATO summit in Lithuania in July.

Albanese is one of four Indo-Pacific leaders who have been invited to attend the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation’s annual gathering for only the second time in the security alliance’s history.

Vasyl Myroshnychenko, ambassador of Ukraine to Australia. says Australia should be represented at a high level at the NATO summit.Credit: Alex Ellinghausen

While NATO is a trans-Atlantic alliance that vows to protect any member state that is attacked, it has in recent years begun focusing on the threat posed by China’s rise and the increasingly aggressive stance taken by President Xi Jinping.

NATO’s boss, Jens Stoltenberg, said earlier this month the expertise of Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand – the so-called AP4 grouping – was invaluable for European countries that had been focused on fighting terrorism and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The government says Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to Ukraine’s war effort because a Russian victory would embolden authoritarian regimes around the world, but as reported this week, Albanese is not set to attend the summit. The prime minister’s office declined to comment.

Myroshnychenko said he would like to see Albanese attend, but that Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles would be an appropriate substitute.

“I would welcome the prime minister attending NATO summit in Vilnius,” Myroshnychenko said in an interview.

“When he went last year he was able to visit Ukraine.

“The next summit, a lot of it will be about Ukraine and making sure Ukraine can defend itself.

“I believe Australia should be represented at a high level. If he can’t make it then perhaps the deputy prime minister could go?”

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese (right) talks to Ukrainian ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroschnychenko on a visit to Kyiv, Ukraine, in July.Credit: AAP

The opposition says Albanese should prioritise attending NATO but former foreign minister Bob Carr backed the prime minister’s decision, saying Australia had “spilt enough blood on European battlefields”.

“Our region is Asia and its people buy our exports and deliver our migrants,” Carr, a critic of the AUKUS defence agreement with NATO members the United States and United Kingdom, said in a tweet this week.

Myroshnychenko also said he had formally requested further assistance from Australia, noting it had been six months since the government’s last major commitment.

“I appreciate the support we have received so far,” he said.

He said Ukraine did not have a shopping list but would appreciate more Bushmasters and needed artillery, sniper guns and anti-drone guns. Ukraine recently released a video on social media requesting Australia’s Hawkei 4WD light armoured vehicles.

“It’s not about something specific, what’s important is that that support can continue,” he said.

“For example, if Australia could buy us weapons or send us Hawkeis that would send a message to Russia that Ukraine can get the most recent gear. That would be a strong and symbolic message of support for Ukraine but also a strong message to Moscow that they must withdraw.

“We’re getting ready for the counter-offensive and the counter-offensive will happen when Ukraine is ready and has the right weapons, but a lot of that promised support still hasn’t come through.”

Stefan Romaniw and Kateryna Argyrou, co-chairs of the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations, also urged Albanese to rethink his decision not to attend the NATO summit, saying a video of a Ukrainian captive being beheaded showed why ongoing support was needed.

“We understand that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese will not be attending the upcoming NATO summit,” the pair said in a statement.

“However, we think Australia should remain at the table to reinforce its strategic commitment to the rules-based global system, our democratic allies, and the fight against unjustified and harrowing aggression.”

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