The Australian Government has pledged to provide a new assistance package to Ukraine valued at $100 million.
Announced by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles and Foreign Minister Penny Wong on Monday (26 June), the new package is the first to be announced this year. It will take Australia’s total contribution to the Ukraine war effort since Russia’s invasion last February to $790 million.
The package will include 70 military vehicles comprising 28 M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers (APC), 14 special operations vehicles – likely Supacat HMTs – 28 Rheinmetall 40M armoured trucks, as well as 14 trailers for the trucks.
It will also include stocks of 105 mm artillery ammunition used by M777-towed howitzers like those previously donated by Australia and $10 million for the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which manages the Ukrainian Humanitarian Fund. Australia will also waive tariff fees on Ukrainian exports for an additional year to assist the Ukrainian economy.
The M113s are Vietnam-era tracked vehicles capable of withstanding small and medium calibre fire, and are used as ambulances, command vehicles and for conducting reconnaissance. The AS4 version is a substantial upgrade performed in the late-90s and early-2000s, which includes additional armour, a revised interior and stretched chassis, and other improvements. In 2022 Australia sent 28 M113AS4s to Ukraine in two batches of 14.
The Supacat HMT is an armoured open-top vehicle that can carry a small special operations squad drive across a variety of terrains, and the 40M trucks feature a flatbed and an armoured cabin and underside capable of withstanding the blast from improvised explosive devices and mines.
“This latest package of support demonstrates that Ukraine can count on Australia,” the Prime Minister said in a release.
“We support international efforts to ensure Putin’s aggression fails and that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity prevails.”
Quotes attributable to Deputy Prime Minister Marles added, “Ukraine has demonstrated strength, resilience and courage in defending against Russia’s unjust invasion. Ukraine has highlighted the utility of Australian vehicles on the battlefield”.
The package doesn’t include the Hawkei-protected mobility vehicle (PMV) built by Thales Australia in Bendigo, which Ukraine has continuously asked for in recent months. When asked about that at a press conference on Monday, the Prime Minister said it wasn’t the best vehicle for Ukraine.
“The advice is that would not be the best way to provide assistance to Ukraine,” he said.
“What we have done is asked the ADF what is the best way we can provide support in the immediate sense that is available to us, that has been the basis [of our support].”
Commentators had predicted the Prime Minister was saving up an aid package announcement for next month’s NATO Conference in Lithuania, which he will be attending, so Monday’s announcement was a surprise. Mr Albanese also said it had nothing to do with last weekend’s failed coup attempt in Russia.
“We have been working on this proposal with the view to taking it to Cabinet this morning for some time,” he said.
“The events obviously occurred over the weekend, but this has been working through; you will note that there have been announcements approximately every four months or so since we came to government. We have done it as soon as it’s available, as soon as appropriate.”