Ukrainian community event, Adelaide

  • Speech

Introduction and acknowledgements

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the lands on which we meet, the Kaurna people, and pay respects to elders past, present and emerging.

Later this year Australians will have the opportunity to vote YES to finally recognise First Nations peoples in our constitution.

Voting YES, means strengthening our country, being more united and being better placed to listen to First Nations peoples.

Thank you, Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko, for inviting me to speak.

You are an outstanding advocate for your country – and work tirelessly to support the Ukrainian people.

I also acknowledge those who made today's event possible, including AFUO Co-Chair Kateryna Argyrou and the Ukrainian Association of South Australia.

And Frank Fursenko, President of the Association of Ukrainians in South Australia, our host today.

It is 517 days since Russia launched its illegal, and immoral full-scale invasion on a peaceful Ukraine.

An unconscionable event. An attack on the UN Charter by a permanent member of the UN Security Council.

Three months later, I had the privilege of becoming Australia's Foreign Minister.

When I was preparing for today, I reflected that Russia's criminal war has been one of defining events of my term as Foreign Minister.

I think that is only partly true.

What has defined this turbulent period has been Ukraine's resistance.

It is Ukraine's resistance that has challenged a dangerous, growing assumption that power always prevails.

That has reminded us of our collective aspiration to live in a world where sovereignty is respected.

When Russia attacked Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the world was horrified.

But that horror did not change the implicit assumption that the smaller country would, of course, yield to the larger aggressor.

Many underestimated Ukraine. Many underestimated the courage and resilience of the Ukrainian people.

In January this year, I had the privilege of seeing that courage firsthand when I visited members of Ukrainian Armed Forces being trained by Australian Defence Force personnel as part of a UK-led multi-national training program.

Only a year ago these soldiers had been teachers, farmers, professionals. They now stood ready to fight for their country and their sovereignty.

The world has a choice as to whose example shapes our future.

The brute power and lies of Russia's invaders, mercenaries and apologists.

Or the remarkable courage of those soldiers and their leaders.

Or in fact, the courage of all of you - I know you, your families, friends and country are suffering immense devastation and loss.

So I would like to thank you for the opportunity to address you today.

Today, I would like to leave you in no doubt as to the strength of Australia's commitment.

Australia steadfastly supports Ukraine's sovereignty, territorial integrity and right to self-determination.

Along with our partners, we are committed to empowering Ukraine to resolve this war on its own terms.

Our message has been clear: Russia's crimes and lies will not stand. They have only strengthened our resolve.

We have reflected on the type of world order we treasure. The lives lived to potential, the dreams and ambitions fulfilled.

The common aspiration that our children will prosper in peace, and live better lives than our own.

Russia has reminded us that this future is borne of a system of rules and order respected by all.

We believe small and medium countries must be able to maintain their sovereign choices, protected by a stable framework of rules.

We commit anew to these rules and laws, and in so doing we commit anew, one year on, to stand with the people of Ukraine.

Australia's support for Ukraine

There are two fundamental elements to Australia's response to the war.

The first is direct support for Ukraine.

Australia is proud to have contributed important defence, economic and emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

So far, we have committed nearly $900 million, including -

  • Approximately $ 710 million in military assistance to Ukraine, including a total of 120 Bushmasters.
  • That includes 30 additional Bushmasters, announced by Australia's Prime Minister at the NATO Leaders' Summit in Lithuania earlier this month.

Australia has also contributed $75 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to help meet the urgent needs of the Ukrainian people.

This humanitarian assistance is delivered through trusted partners, including the UN.

It focuses on responding to urgent needs for food, water, healthcare and shelter, in particular for women, children, and vulnerable people -

Who we know have been suffering greatly, in the wake of Russia's illegal and immoral war.

Furthermore, to support Ukrainian nationals taking refuge in Australia, we have prioritised visa applications, particularly those with Australian connections.

Since February last year, Australia has granted more than 13,500 visas to Ukrainians and more than 10,500 Ukrainians with these visas have since arrived in Australia.

We are providing nearly $20 million for the allocation of additional temporary visas, extended access to Medicare, and community support.

Australia's actions against Russia

Then there is the second element of Australia's response.

Which is to ensure Russia pays a price for its crimes. That it is held responsible for its lies.

Australia is unequivocal in condemning Russia's illegal and immoral war.

We continue to work closely with Five Eyes, G7 and other partners to impose significant economic and political costs on Russia and those supporting its invasion.

Australia's suite of sanctions and trade measures against Russia is comprehensive.

Russia is denied access to our markets and we ensure Australia does not fund Russia's war machine.

We have imposed more than 1,100 targeted financial sanctions in response to Russia's full-scale invasion.

Australia has implemented trade sanctions banning the import of Russian oil, refined petroleum products, coal, gas and gold…

…And the export of alumina, bauxite, luxury goods including wine and cosmetics to Russia.

Australia is also implementing a ban on the export of all machinery and related parts to Russia and areas temporarily under Russian control.

Russia must pay a price for its reprehensible actions against Ukraine's sovereignty, the rule of law and the UN Charter.

Australia continues to work with international partners to support Ukraine and hold Russia to account in the multilateral system, including in the UN General Assembly (UNGA).

We have co-sponsored and advocated for UNGA Emergency Special Session resolutions on Russia's invasion of Ukraine, including landmark resolutions on Ukraine's territorial integrity, remedy and reparations.

Australia supports international legal mechanisms to hold Russia accountable and deliver justice to Ukraine.

We have joined partners to file an intervention at the International Court of Justice in support of Ukraine's case against Russia to ensure Russia's leadership is held accountable.

Australia has imposed sanctions on targets perpetuating Russia's disinformation, including the spokespeople for President Putin and the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Sputnik; and CEO of Channel One Russia, Konstantin Ernst.

We fiercely advocate for that at every opportunity, at international forums, and in meetings with other countries.

A world where no country dominates

Russia's invasion of Ukraine serves as a constant reminder of what is at stake.

It is a reminder that peace, prosperity and stability can never be taken for granted.

A reminder that we want a world where a larger country does not determine the fate of a smaller country; where each country can pursue its own aspirations, its own prosperity.

A reminder that we all have a responsibility to play our part in shaping that world.

Beyond the absolute horrors being inflicted on Ukraine, the impact of the war is far-reaching,

We have seen how Russia's actions are compounding human suffering and propelling the global crisis in food and energy security.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine has also underlined how much stronger we are when we work together to address shared challenges.

The shadow of Russia's aggression has forged stronger ties between Australia and Ukraine.

We may be some 13,000 kilometres apart….

But we are united by our shared values…

And our determination to defend sovereignty.

Australia stands with Ukraine.

Slava Ukraini!

Thank you.

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