Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko has flagged his interest in a plot of embassy land recently taken off the Russian Federation in Canberra.
Russia had originally leased a Yarralumla site to build its new embassy, but this was terminated by the National Capital Authority (NCA) last week.
Ambassador Myroshnychenko said the country’s current embassy was a leased office space in Canberra’s CBD.
“If the Ukrainian government is interested, I’m happy to submit a request to the Australian Government for [the lease],” he said.
“We have been considering other plots for an embassy, which may not be as attractive because of their location … but this location is excellent if we get the green light to apply.
“In my personal opinion, [the land] looks like a perfect match.”
Ambassador Myroshnychenko explained he was interested in establishing a more permanent embassy given the recent closeness between Ukraine and Australia.
“We couldn’t afford an embassy initially because our [country’s] relationships were still limited … but our bilateral relationship has reached a new level. Australia has provided $400 million in military assistance, so that has brought a new level of cooperation,” he said.
“It’s a long-term investment; it means our relations are long-term here.”
An NCA spokesperson said it had not received “any queries or applications” for the site since the termination announcement was made on Wednesday (17 August).
The Russian Embassy has 20 days from the notice of termination to clear the site, which gave it an end time of 23:59 on Wednesday, 14 September, to comply.
“The NCA will not be conducting any inspection [of the site] until after the deadline,” a spokesperson said.
The authority had cited its “use it or lose it” policy as the reason the lease was terminated.
While the Russian Embassy said it would refrain from “detailed public comments” for now, it was seeking legal advice for the lease termination, which it described as an “unprecedented and highly unwelcome move”.
A spokesperson said the building project had encountered “multiple problems and delays” throughout the years.
“At all times these were a matter of constructive and frank consultations between the Embassy and the NCA,” they said.
“It is really puzzling why the NCA chose to terminate the lease now that the construction process at Yarralumla site has been steadily going on uninterrupted for the last two-plus years, with results already very much visible and prospects rather clear.”