Vasyl Myroshnychenko, Kateryna Argyrou plead for more help to Ukraine from Australia

Ukraine’s top diplomat in Australia has pleaded with Canberra to “do more” to help hold the line and prevent conflict from spilling over further as Russia’s invasion enters its third year.

Kyiv has called on Australia to significantly ramp up its military support, reopen its embassy in the Ukrainian capital and help displaced Ukrainians with a pathway to permanent residency.

Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko said Ukraine desperately wanted the war to end swiftly after two years of fighting, but the world could not stand for anything less than a “just, sovereign and irreversible peace”.

Speaking at the National Press Club – where Defence Minister Richard Marles was in attendance – Mr Myroshnychenko thanked Australia for its assistance so far but said if Ukrainian life was to ever go back to “normal”, the assistance packages from Australia and other like-minded countries needed to be dramatically ramped up.

“How many more years should the war drag on? We need more of everything. We need enough to end this war and defeat Russia’s invasion. Hanging on is not enough,” he said.

His panel mate, Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations co-chair Kateryna Argyrou, said it was not good enough that Australia had slipped from being the largest non-NATO contributor to the sixth.

“Assistance packages have become smaller and less frequent,” she said.

“We’re appealing to the government to link its support to the scale of the challenge. If Ukraine is to end Russia’s illegal and immoral war on its own terms … Australia’s support needs to be delivered at scale and at frequency that will help shift the dial.

“Stepping back and doing less as has been the trend is not in Australia’s national interests.”

She said there were four things Ukraine needed from the Australian government.

“One is to provide additional military support to Ukraine. Two is to provide pathways to permanent residency for displaced Ukrainians in Australia. Three is to reopen the Australian embassy in Kyiv. And four is to implement a whole-of-government approach to Ukraine,” she said.

Mr Myroshnychenko said Australian boots on the ground was “not on the table” at the moment, but rather Ukraine needed “money and material”.

He spoke about how Ukrainians longed for their pre-2022 life and wanted “to have what every Australian has and 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,” he said.

“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 people want to go to football training and go out for a beer on a Friday night, but they have to be in the trenches under the Russian shelling.”

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