Australia to train Ukrainian troops, ship more armored vehicles

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Australia said on Thursday it will deploy 70 soldiers to Britain to help train Ukrainian troops there and ship 30 more armored vehicles to bolster Kyiv’s war against Russia’s invasion.

Thousands have been killed, and homes and factories destroyed, since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine, which he calls a “special military operation” to rid its neighbor of extremists.

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Ukraine and the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and that the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.

“We expect this now to be a protracted conflict,” Defense Minister Richard Marles told ABC television. The latest package takes Australia’s support for Ukraine to about A$655 million ($425 million) since the conflict began in February.

“We’re mindful that Ukraine needs to now be supported over the longer term if we’re going to put Ukraine in a position where it can resolve this conflict on its own terms,” he said.

Australia, one of the largest non-NATO contributors to the West’s support for Ukraine, has been supplying aid and defense equipment and has banned exports of alumina and aluminum ores, including bauxite, to Russia. It has also placed sanctions on hundreds of Russian individuals and entities.

Australian troops, who will arrive in Britain in January, will join a UK-led international training exercise but will not enter the war zone in Ukraine, Marles said.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba thanked Australia for the latest aid.

“(The Bushmaster) armored vehicles have shown excellent results on the battlefield and we requested more of them. We will always remember Australia’s support!,” he said in a tweet.

Ukrainian forces have advanced into Russian-occupied Kherson province, threatening a major defeat for Moscow, amid a high-profile rehearsal for nuclear war by Russia.

Russia has also accused Kyiv of ordering two organizations to create a dirty bomb, an explosive device laced with radioactive material, without giving any evidence. Kyiv denies any such plans.

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