Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles visited Ukraine on 27 April 2024. (ADF photo by Cpl. Andrew Sleema)

SYDNEY — Standing in the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles announced a new $100 million in assistance for the embattled Eastern European nation after also visiting Ploand.

“Australia remains committed to supporting Ukraine to resolve the conflict on its terms,” Marles said in a ministry statement, which added that the aid was a mark of Australia’s “unwavering commitment” to Kyiv. The statement said Marles “met Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Shmyhal, and saw first-hand the tragic costs of Russia’s unrelenting attacks.”

“This takes Australia’s military assistance to $880 million since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and brings Australia’s overall support for Ukraine to over $1 billion,” the ministry statement said last night.

The new tranche includes:

$50 million for short-range air defence systems
$30 million for drones;
$15 million for high priority equipment such as combat helmets, rigid hull inflatable boats, boots, fire masks and generators.

Australia has already supplied 120 Bushmaster vehicles, six 155mm howitzers, 56 M113 armored vehicles and 14 special operations vehicles. Perhaps the single most effective weapon Australia has supplied — especially for cost-benefit — is more than 500 of the cardboard-based drones designed and built by the Australian company Sypaq.

During his two-day trip, Marles also stopped in Poland where he met his counterpart, Defense Minister Władysław Kosiniak-Kamysz. “They discussed the conflict in Ukraine, and its global implications including Russia’s flagrant breach of the UN Charter,” the ministry statement said.

The latest aid comes after Ukraine spent months asking Australia to supply Taipan helicopters, which the Australian government had decided to scrap. The 45 Taipan MRH-90 aircraft were retired last year after a crash that killed four soldiers during a training exercise. Marles and other ministers said that no country showed interest in buying the helicopters after they were grounded. The investigation into the cause of the Taipan has not been released.

The latest Australian assistance also comes after the US Congress belatedly passed a supplemental spending bill providing $61 billion in aid for Ukraine. While the bill was stalled in the House of Representatives, Russian forces were reportedly out-firing Ukrainian artillery as much as ten-to-one because 155mm and other shells simply weren’t arriving from the United States or Europe quickly enough.

Another US defense package for Ukraine, this one for $6 billion, was announced April 26 but all the weapons are to be ordered from industry, not drawn from US stocks — meaning it could take years for those weapons to arrive in Ukraine.