• A-
  • Людям із порушенням зору
  • Українською
  • English
Виступ Посла України в Австралії Василя Мирошниченка на Національному прес-клубі Австралії 28 лютого 2024
Опубліковано 28 лютого 2024 року о 09:39

President and members of the Press Club, Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament, fellow members of the Diplomatic Corps, distinguished Guests, supporters of Ukraine watching or listening in, ladies and gentlemen: let me add my sincere acknowledgement of First Nations people to those already made.

It is an honour to once again accept the privilege of addressing the National Press Club.  Joining me today is Kateryna Argyrou, Co-Chair of the Australian Federation of Ukraine Organisations, who will offer some insights on the essential work she and others are undertaking here and in Ukraine.

I intend to speak plainly today so that there is no doubt about my meaning.  My experience of Australian journalists is that your questions at the end of my remarks will be even more pointed, so there is always that to look forward to. 

We are here to mark the second anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.  Let’s be honest: Russia, China, Europe, NATO, and the Five Eyes nations thought Ukraine would be defeated in three weeks, maybe five if we were lucky.    

Two years later Ukraine is still fighting hard – but the question for today, in this forum at the National Press Club, is this: do you want to see this war drag on for another year?  Another two years?  Longer?  Do you want Russia to win?  Is that acceptable to you?

How many Ukrainian soldiers killed in action can the world accept?  How many Ukrainian civilian deaths are too many, when they are not accidents, but deliberately targeted by Russian precision-guided missiles and drones?  How much civilian infrastructure deliberately destroyed by Russia is too much?

In short: is there a limit that liberal democracies, including Australia, will place on Russia’s unprovoked, illegal and immoral war of territorial annexation against Ukraine?  Or is there no limit?  How does this war end?  And when?

Ladies and gentlemen, I am a firm believer in optimistic leadership. 

Optimistic, realistic, determined, positive leadership is something we can all unite behind.  And when it succeeds, it is magnificent to watch.

I hope you will agree that President Zelenskyy embodies the characteristics of optimistic leadership.  He has done a remarkable job of holding the country together and galvanising an heroic defence of the nation, when everyone around the world, including here in Australia, thought Ukraine would collapse.

Australia has certainly responded to President Zelenskyy, and to the desperate defence of Ukraine, in a very meaningful and practical way. 

Ukraine’s front-line troops and Ukraine’s civilians clearly know exactly what Australia has given them.  They are deeply grateful and will never forget Australia.  The defence of Ukraine has bi-partisan support in the Australian Parliament, and frankly speaking, Ukraine needs it.

The Bushmasters, the artillery, the lightweight drones, the coal delivery, and all the other things make a dramatic difference.  They save lives, they prevent casualties, they enable an effective defence.  Australia’s contributions, when combined with everyone else’s, are vital. 

Everything helps, everything makes a difference, nothing is wasted.

But it is not enough assistance. 

It is not enough assistance to create the excess military firepower and combat force that we need to reverse Russian gains and to end the war. 

It is not enough assistance to give Ukraine’s civilians sufficient defensive capability to resist Russian military missile and drone targeting. 

Ukraine’s people are fighting hard, but they do not have enough military, humanitarian assistance and reconstruction support to win, and thus to end this war.

We have just enough assistance.  Barely enough assistance.  We have drip-fed and ad hoc one-off support contributions sufficient to hang on and to keep going.  Yes: at this rate we can slowly keep going. 

But is that acceptable?  For how many years should this war drag on?

We need more; more of everything.  We need enough to end this war and to defeat Russia’s invasion.  “Hanging on” is not enough.

At the beginning of this invasion, I said: “if Russia stops fighting the war ends; if Ukraine stops fighting Ukraine ends”.  That is still true. 

But Russia thinks it can win and does not want to stop fighting.  Ukraine has a right to its sovereignty, independence, self-defence and national security, so we will not stop fighting.

Ukraine has shown it can defend itself:

  • we have shown that Ukrainian soldiers can match and over-match Russian military forces at sea and on land,
  • we have shown we can effectively employ foreign military equipment and humanitarian support (perhaps more effectively than anyone expected – including the Russian Black Sea Fleet),
  • we have shown that we do not squander your practical assistance, and
  • we have shown that we are optimistic and resilient in the face of an existential threat not only to our nation but also to the international rules-based order.

Let us show you that we can do more, if you provide us with more.

That is my message to you, to the Five Eyes nations, to NATO members, and to the EU: Let us show you that we can do more, if you provide us with more.

The fundamental issues are these:

  • Ukraine is not asking Australia, or anyone else, to send combat troops to fight for us; we can fight for ourselves. 
  • But we cannot fight empty-handed. 
  • We need more, so that we can do more. 
  • We want the war to end swiftly; we do not want year after year of a Russia versus Ukraine meat-grinder. 
  • Ukraine wants an end-game, and we know that is what liberal democracies want: the UN Charter to prevail, sovereign borders to be respected, no wars of territorial annexation, global security stability, international agreements to be upheld, and the global economy normalised.
  • Ukraine wants its borders, its freedom, and its sovereignty restored - swiftly and irreversibly. 

So where does that leave Australia?  What can Australia do?

Optimistic, active leadership is priceless.  We don’t have to look hard to find it, and Australia is good at it.  Australia can contribute more.

Ukraine would like to see Australia play a direct and active role with other likeminded nations in the Tank Coalition, the Airpower Coalition, and the other Coaltions that are forming around military capability supply and capacity building.  These are optimistic initiatives delivering practical combat power that prepares Ukraine to end this war.  Ukraine also needs air defence to protect civilians and civilian infrastructure.  Australia can contribute more.

Ukraine needs to be relieved as much as possible of the humanitarian burden to protect, nurture, and support the civilian community so that Ukraine can focus all internal efforts towards military objectives.  Ukraine needs more humanitarian assistance, energy sources especially coal, public utility repairs, and reconstruction support.  We need it now.  Australia can contribute more.  

Ukraine needs to return to peacetime full-functionality as fast as possible.  Removing Russian landmines, rebuilding agricultural and industrial capacity, restoring energy reticulation and lines of communication, and repairing war damage are all lines of effort that Australian construction, commerce, and industry are very good at.  We cannot wait for the war to end before commencing this work.  Australia can contribute more.

In this regard Ukraine is deeply grateful for the continued vocal, practical, and precise support of Andrew and Nicola Forrest, and their Minderoo Foundation.  They have demonstrated that supporting Ukraine’s defence and reconstruction is a whole-of-community enterprise.  There is a role for private sector industry, business and philanthropy, not just for government. 

The de-mining of agricultural land is just one of many areas where the private sector can contribute.      

Ukraine needs an avalanche of international support.  We need so much international support we can barely absorb it.  We need “push” logistics, not “pull” logistics. 

The current model sees international assistance arriving in ad hoc packets that are barely enough, and only just in time. 

Our artillery guns and mortars are falling silent for want of ammunition at the gun lines.  We don’t have enough missiles for our target list.  We don’t have enough helicopters to retrieve our front-line casualties and get them to combat surgical hospitals. 

We need the governments and defence industries of our friends and allies to shift into a higher gear; overdrive.  They need to shift from a calculated drawing down of surplus war-stocks and move to a determined wartime production footing.  Ammunition and missile production lines that remain at low-rate production, working 38-hour 4-day weeks, is not where we need to be in 2024. 

We need a wartime ammunition, missile, armoured vehicle, and drone assembly line tempo.  We need high-rate production, we need high-throughput explosive and propellant supply chains, and we need them now.  Australia has a role to play, and it can contribute more to the propellant and explosives supply chain effort.  

More than all these things is the need for Thought Leadership.  Australia is very good at this, too.  Ukraine needs innovative, creative, effective ways to generate a fast, slick military and humanitarian supply chain into Ukraine; a supply chain without bottlenecks. 

In World War Two, America enthusiastically took on the title of The Arsenal of Democracy.  Ukraine needs Australia to remain a member of the enthusiastic network of liberal democracies that will become the Arsenal of Democracy for Ukraine.  More can be done in 2024.       

Ukraine knows this is a hugely expensive fight, and there are very high direct and opportunity costs carried by every nation that supports Ukraine against the unrestrained Russian invasion.

But this is a fight that cannot be reduced to dollars and cents.

Contributions to Ukraine’s defence are not “charitable donations”.

They are an investment in:

  • the defence of the international rules-based order,
  • the primacy of the UN Charter,
  • the entitlement of a law-abiding nation to rely on its sovereignty and its sovereign borders,
  • the freedom from armed aggression, and
  • it is a direct resistance to the cynical perversion of the UN Security Council by one of its Permanent Members. 

I was recently asked if Ukraine really was fighting on behalf of Australia.  The answer is: “Yes.  Yes it is”.

Every Ukrainian wants to have what every Australian has, what we used to have.

Just like you, we want to take our kids bushwalking or camping over the weekend, but our countryside is deliberately and indiscriminately littered with unmarked Russian minefields now.

Our farmers are just like your farmers: they want to get a fair price for the food and fibre they produce, and not be concerned about unexploded ordnance or transport chains attacked by military forces, which in many cases have destroyed their businesses.

Parents want to read a bedtime story to their kids but instead rush to winter bomb shelters when the air raid sirens sound. 

Grandparents want to babysit for their grandchildren, instead of going to their funerals because Russians used a missile to deliberately strike a school.  Our young lads want to go to football training and go out for beer on a Friday night, but they have to be in the trenches under Russian shelling.

I have spent time at the Australian War Memorial.  It is incredibly moving, and thought provoking.

There are 103,000 names on the walls of the Roll of Honour.  Those names gave their tomorrows so that we can have our todays. 

Ukrainian women and men on the front line are giving up their tomorrows right now too, for the same values and principles as those for which Australians died: sovereignty, democracy, and freedom from armed coercion. 

Ukraine will fight and die for those values and principles, but we cannot do it alone.  We need Australia’s help, and that of all other likeminded nations.  Much has been done so far, for which Ukrainians will be eternally grateful.  Even more is needed in 2024.  

Ukrainians realise that our lives will never be the same as they were before the 24th of February 2022.  But we will do everything possible to make sure that the next generation lives in peace and security, on its own land, without having to die for the privilege.

Ukrainians hope you will be able to help to a greater degree.  We have already accepted the absolute requirement to set aside any desire for revenge.  But we cannot settle for anything less than a just, sovereign, and irreversible peace.   Surely that’s very Australian.

Outdated Browser
Для комфортної роботи в Мережі потрібен сучасний браузер. Тут можна знайти останні версії.
Outdated Browser
Цей сайт призначений для комп'ютерів, але
ви можете вільно користуватися ним.
людей використовує
цей браузер
Google Chrome
Доступно для
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
людей використовує
цей браузер
Mozilla Firefox
Доступно для
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux
людей використовує
цей браузер
Microsoft Edge
Доступно для
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
людей використовує
цей браузер
Доступно для
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Linux