Anthony Albanese greets embattled Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky at a NATO summit with a big hug, as Australia gifts the war-torn nation 30 new Bushmaster vehicles to take on Russia
- Australia to donate 30 additional FWD armored vehicles
- Brings the total number donated by Australia to 120
- Australia has provided more than $710 million in military aid
Australia will donate an additional 30 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles to Ukraine, Anthony Albanese announced.
The prime minister met Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Lithuania on Wednesday night, where the two embraced.
The Australian leader promised more military aid to support the country in its fight against Russia.
The package builds on Australia’s earlier commitment of 90 Bushmasters, bringing the total number to 120.
Australia has provided more than $710 million in military aid, with overall support totaling $890 million.
Albanese said Australia remained steadfast in its commitment to support Ukraine.
The prime minister met Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskiy on the sidelines of a NATO summit in Lithuania on Wednesday evening (pictured)
The couple later embraced, with Albanese saying Australia was proud to help “the brave men and women who are fighting for their home and their nation’s sovereignty.”
“We are proud to provide additional Bushmaster vehicles to help the brave men and women fighting for their home and their nation’s sovereignty,” he said.
“Russia unilaterally launched this illegal and immoral invasion and should withdraw its troops and end the conflict immediately.”
Mr. Zelenskiy expressed his gratitude after meeting with Mr. Albanese.
‘Thank you! A powerful new defense package, including 30 Bushmasters,” he wrote on the Telegram app.
Australia this week announced a further step in its support for Ukraine: the deployment of an RAAF E-7A Wedgetail aircraft to protect the flow of assistance.
Earlier, Albanese told NATO leaders that Australia’s association with the security alliance is crucial to world peace and prosperity.
The prime minister is in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius as part of a group of four Indo-Pacific nations sharing concerns with European and NATO partners about the global impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
NATO members invited Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea to provide information on broader security challenges, such as China’s military expansion.
Albanese spoke at the summit, where he is understood to have told leaders that keeping the peace was not simply the responsibility of major powers, but that all countries should contribute to the world’s collective resilience.
He outlined Australia’s work on defense force reform, working with Washington and London in the AUKUS partnership and advancing diplomatic work in the Indo-Pacific region and with NATO partners.
Australia will have donated a total of 120 Bushmaster 4WD armored vehicles
After his meeting with Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary general told reporters that China “is not our adversary.”
Chinese authorities said in a statement that the nation opposes NATO’s “eastward movement towards the Asia-Pacific region.”
“Any act that endangers China’s legitimate rights and interests will be met with a resolute response,” they said.
Ukraine is looking to join NATO, but admission to the alliance is unlikely to happen any time soon.
NATO leaders have agreed on a long-term support package, deeper political ties and more work with Ukraine on its accession, which is not expected to happen until after the war is over.
Albanese spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on the sidelines of the summit on Tuesday, as well as his UK counterpart Rishi Sunak, discussing progress on the AUKUS pact, free trade deal and cricket.
The prime minister also met with a bipartisan delegation of US senators who will play a role in passing legislation allowing for the transfer of Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines to Australia under the AUKUS partnership.
Trade and climate were on the agenda of a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday.
The first Bushmaster PMV, an ambulance variant, is loaded onto a C-17 Globemaster aircraft headed for Ukraine on April 8.
What is the Bushmaster?
The Bushmaster Protected Military Vehicle (PMV), or Infantry Mobility Vehicle, is an Australian-built four-wheel drive armored vehicle that has seen action in several wars.
The Bushmaster (pictured) is an 11-tonne armored military vehicle designed to transport and deploy up to ten soldiers on the battlefield.
The vehicle’s design means it can fulfill a variety of other roles, including as an ambulance (Pictured, Bushmaster armored car preparing for deployment to help flooded communities in March 2022)
Nicknamed ‘The Bushy’, the PMV is designed to safely transport troops through war zones and deploy them to the front lines.
- First produced: 1997
- Number built: 1,195
- Cost: AUD2,450,000 (AUD)
- Crew: 1 driver, 9 passengers
- Weight: 11 – 15 tons
- Designed by: Australian Defense Industries (ADI)
- Currently produced by: Thales Australia (formerly ADI)
- Used in: War in Afghanistan, Iraq War, East Timor, Golan Heights, Iraqi Civil War, Syrian Civil War, Northern Mali Conflict
- Use for: Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Fiji, Indonesia, Jamaica, Japan, the Netherlands. (Several others, including the United States, France and Spain, have expressed interest.)
- variants: Several versions of ‘The Bushy’ have been produced. These include: Troop, Commando, Air Defense, Ambulance, Assault Pathfinder, Mortar Variant, Direct Fire Weapons, General Maintenance.