UC NSW – Position Statement 4 March 2022
AFUO POSITION STATEMENT
RUSSIAN INVASION OF UKRAINE – HOW AUSTRALIA CAN HELP
4 March 2022
In the early hours of February 24, 2022, Russia declared an open and unprovoked war against Ukraine. Russian armed forces launched a full-scale multi-pronged invasion to subjugate Ukraine and destroy its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
As the peak body for 22 Ukrainian community organisations in Australia, the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) calls on the Australian government and the international community to stop Putin’s war against Ukraine, Europe and an international rules-based order.
The AFUO acknowledges the support the Australian government has already announced for Ukraine, including the provision of lethal and non-lethal military aid; sanctions and travel bans; offering humanitarian assistance; and assisting with visa and migration issues.
The AFUO also acknowledges the response of the international community in announcing major financial sanctions, significant lethal and non-lethal military support, and the closing of European air space to Russian aircraft.
Russia, however, continues to inflict enormous damage and destruction in Ukraine. It has escalated its attacks on civilians and residential dwellings. The scale of the humanitarian disaster is increasing daily.
A nuclear attack is no longer just a threat, the war has already turned nuclear. The Russian military is systematically targeting nuclear plants in Ukraine. Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant, the largest nuclear facility in Europe is currently under attack by the Russian army. A missile impact damaged the radiation monitoring system on 1 March 2022 and as of 4 March 2022, the plant is on fire. If it explodes, the damage will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl.
Australia must lead by example and play a vital role in protecting human life and helping avert a nuclear crisis that not only impacts Europe, but the entire world. We call for the Australian government to support the below measures:
- Establish an internationally enforced no-fly zone over Ukraine – Australia should strongly support the establishment of an air exclusion zone over Ukraine. Although some argue that this may mean the West is intervening in the conflict, it will also mean civilian lives are saved. With the use of surveillance and strikes on planes violating the ban, Russia’s slaughter of the innocent, mostly recently witnessed in the indiscriminate bombing of residential suburbs in Kharkiv, will be stopped. With respect the reasons currently provided by the West for not establishing a no-fly zone makes little sense, when NATO is interfering by providing lethal aid and countries such as Tukey have blocked Russia ships from accessing the Black Sea.
- Provide more extensive lethal military aid – Ukrainians are willing to defend themselves and the Ukrainian army is brave and strong, but it is outnumbered and cannot hold the Russian forces off forever. Ukraine requires air defence missiles and anti-tank weapons. We understand that Australia is working with NATO and providing support to fund the supply of these weapons. This is an excellent step forward but more funds are needed.
- NATO military engagement – support Ukraine’s request that it be urgently invited to NATO and EU membership, bolstered by the immediate deployment of NATO forces in Ukraine to defer further Russian advancement.
- Trade Embargo – Australia should impose a trade embargo on Russia, as it has on Donetsk and Luhansk, prohibiting trade in sectors including transport, energy, telecommunication, oil and gas and mineral reserves. Poland is an excellent case study in connection with how European countries may cease to import Russia gas. In 2019 Poland halted the permanent import of Russian gas and increased imports from the US and Qatar and has established new infrastructure including the Baltic Pipe, which brings Norwegian gas to Poland via Denmark.
- Further strengthen financial sanctions – all state-owned enterprises of Russia should be sanctioned; foreign investment in Russia should be banned; Russian companies should be excluded now and in the future from international investment indices and passive investment funds like MSCI, Vanguard, S&P, Russel etc; and a trade embargo should be imposed on Russia to limit its capacity to sell oil and gas to fill its military budgets.
- Take steps to diplomatically isolate Russia – in Australia, this should include the cancellation of visas for Russian visitors, business people and students; closing the Russian consulate in Sydney; stopping Russian ships being allowed to dock in Australian ports; and supporting calls for a UN vote to expel Russia given they have egregiously violated the UN Charter.
- Intensify financial and humanitarian aid – the loss of life, the injuries, the pain and suffering are real. We need the immediate delivery of non-lethal military aid the Australian Government has promised, particularly medical aid, and the expansion of humanitarian efforts, to alleviate the suffering of innocent men, women and children.
The Ukrainian community in Australia has been supporting the Ukraine Crisis Appeal and calls on the Australian government to join the humanitarian aid effort: https://www.ukrainecrisisappeal.org/