UC NSW – Position Statement 16 February 2022

Ukraine has been at war since 2014, which has resulted in over 14,000 tragic deaths, many more injuries and over 1.5 million internally displaced people. This is a war which was started by Putin, commencing with the illegal annexation of Crimea and continues with the ongoing combat in eastern Ukraine.

In recent times, the world has witnessed Putin organising military operations in Belarus and in the Black and Azov seas and increasing Russian military numbers along the Ukrainian border. In doing so, he has effectively created a ring around Ukraine, ready to step up Russia’s invasion at any moment.

This increasing Russian aggression not only has implications for Europe and the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO), but also for Australia and the Asia Pacific region. At the beginning of the current Winter Olympics in Beijing, China, Putin met with President of the People’s Republic of China, Xi Jinping. They released a joint statement which stated “Friendship between the two states has no limits and there are no forbidden areas of cooperation”. This is particularly important given China’s claim over Taiwan, which Moscow fully supported in the statement, in addition to the general anti-west message.

To date, the international community has supported Ukraine’s right to democracy. Ukraine strives to be part of

NATO, and Ukrainians have demonstrated they want stronger relations with Europe and the western world.

The Ukrainian community in NSW and indeed in Australia are grateful for the bipartisan support shown for Ukraine. Whilst diplomatic efforts continue, Putin has shown no signs of de-escalation. Therefore, all countries that support democratic values must continue to stand up to Putin and stand with Ukraine.

We call on the Australian Government to:

  • Continue to send a strong message of solidarity to the Ukrainian Government and support international efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the crisis which does not compromise Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence or territorial integrity;
  • Join with the Federal Opposition in supporting a bipartisan motion in the Australian Federal Parliament which affirms the right of Ukrainians to live in peace and prosperity, free of Russian aggression and threats to their independence;
  • Provide military aid to Ukraine to help Ukraine defend itself against possible military attack, for example, through the donation of military and medical supplies;
  • Exchange best practices and strengthen cyber defences to counter cyber-attacks;
  • Enhance intelligence sharing between Ukraine and Australia;
  • Provide humanitarian assistance and co-operation to people affected by Russian aggression in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, either through international funds or the Australian-Ukrainian community’s Ukraine Crisis Appeal;
  • Escalate its implementation of Australia’s Magnitsky-style Act, to assess whether Russian individuals and other entities can be declared a ‘designated person or entity’ and become subject to sanctions;
  • Escalate negotiation related to more favourable trade treatment of Ukraine by Australia (for example related to the inclusion of Ukraine in the ASTP – the Australian Generalised System of Tariff Preferences), to contribute to Ukraine’s financial strength and resilience;
  • Support initiatives to prevent state-sponsored propaganda, such as Russia Today and Sputnik, being promoted in Australia as an ‘alternative’ or ‘independent’ opinion; and
  • Support international sanctions against President Putin and the Russian Federation should invasion occur, including removal of the SWIFT facility from the Russian economy

This Sunday, 20 February, marks eight years of the Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine and the death of the Heavenly Hundred. We invite you to attend a commemorative service that will be held at 1:30pm at St. Andrew’s Ukrainian Catholic Church in Lidcombe. This will be include a short programme to show support for Ukraine and its people (under the international call of #StandWithUkraine) in today’s tense time of Russian aggression.

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