Australia is set to transfer Bushmaster armored vehicles to Ukraine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said, fulfilling a request from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made just one day prior.
Though the premier did not specify how many vehicles would be sent or give a timeline for deliveries, he unveiled a new $25 million aid package during a Friday press conference, suggesting it would include more than just the Bushmasters.
“We’re not just sending our prayers, we’re sending our guns, we’re sending our munitions, we’re sending our humanitarian aid, we’re sending all of this and body armor,” Morrison said, adding “We’re going to be sending our armored vehicles, our Bushmasters, as well.”
The Ukrainian leader requested the equipment by name during a speech to Australian lawmakers on Thursday, saying “You have very good armed personnel vehicles, Bushmasters, that could help Ukraine substantially,” while also urging for tougher sanctions on Russia.
Before the latest announcement, Canberra had already pledged or sent more than $68 million in military assistance to Ukraine, on top of another $49 million in humanitarian aid, according to the Associated Press.
Since Russia launched its invasion in late February, Zelensky has appeared before governments around the world to plead for additional aid and foreign intervention. In his speech to the Australian parliament, he warned that the distant Oceanic nation would not be safe from the conflict if it escalated to nuclear war, accusing Moscow of “blackmailing other countries” with its ICBMs.
Zelensky has also tailored his message for local audiences, invoking the 9/11 and Pearl Harbor attacks while addressing the US Congress, and referencing the MH-17 plane crash in his comments to Australian lawmakers. The civilian airliner went down under mysterious circumstances in 2014 amid the civil war in eastern Ukraine, killing 38 Australian passengers and 260 others.
The new military aid from Canberra was announced shortly after UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said allied countries were preparing to ship heavier weapons to the government in Kiev.
“Ukraine needs longer-range artillery and that’s because of what the Russian army has been doing, which is now digging in and starting to pound these cities,” Wallace told Sky News. “The best counter to that is other long-range artillery, so they’ll be looking for and getting more long-range artillery, ammunition predominantly.”