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Australian troops fly out to train Ukrainians

Australian soldiers will depart Darwin to help train Ukrainian troops as Kyiv continues to repel Russia’s invasion which began a year ago.

Australian soldiers conduct specific mission training before heading to the UK to help train Ukrainian soldiers. Photo: AAP/Supplied by Department Of Defence

Australian soldiers conduct specific mission training before heading to the UK to help train Ukrainian soldiers. Photo: AAP/Supplied by Department Of Defence

Up to 70 Australian personnel will join partner nations in Britain to help boost the infantry tactics and military skills of Ukrainians.

No Australian troops will enter Ukraine.

The United Kingdom-led program is aiming to train up to 20,000 Ukrainian soldiers this year.

Deputy Prime Minister and defence minister Richard Marles said Australia continues to stand with the embattled nation after Russia’s “clear violation of the rules-based order”.

“Operation KUDU builds on Australia’s military support for Ukraine, with the previously gifted Australian-produced Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles proving their worth as highly valuable military vehicles,” he said.

Defence Personnel Minister Matt Keogh said military personnel were “our greatest defence capability”.

“That’s why it’s so important that our soldiers, alongside a number of partner nations, will provide essential skills to the armed forces of Ukraine, supporting Ukraine to end the conflict on its own terms.”

The personnel will primarily be drawn from the army’s first brigade and will be formally farewelled in Darwin on Wednesday.

Mr Marles, who will send a personal video message to the departing Australians, said the international community needs to stand with Ukraine for as long as it takes.

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“It is a really important deployment because the Ukrainian army now is very much a reservist army, it is a citizen army,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program on Wednesday.

“The skills that are going to be provided by these Australian trainers are going to help equip the Ukrainian army for the battlefield, it will make them safer, it’ll save lives and it will keep Ukraine in the fight.”

Asked if he was concerned about blowback from Russia, Marles said Australia could not be clearer in its condemnation of the invasion.

“All our security agencies monitor Russian state activity and we will continue to be vigilant about that,” he added.

Australia has provided about $655 million in support for Ukraine, including $475 million in military assistance.

It includes a total of 90 Bushmasters.

AAP

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