Dozens of Australian defence force personnel are to fly from Darwin to the UK this week to begin training Ukrainian troops.
The government has committed to sending up to 70 ADF members to join a UK-led training operation. A handful have already left Australia to prepare but the majority are departing this week.
The Albanese government will on Wednesday spell out more details of the mission. It says most of the troops joining the training mission will be from the Australian Army’s 5 RAR 1st Brigade.
“The training conducted under this operation will generate additional capacity within the armed forces of Ukraine and will focus on basic infantry tactics for urban and wooded environments,” the government said in a statement.
The aim was to help Ukrainian recruits “gain the military skills needed to defend their homeland”.
The troops will be farewelled at a ceremony in Darwin on Wednesday. The government emphasised the mission did not involve any Australian troops entering Ukrainian territory.
The minister for defence personnel, Matt Keogh – who will represent the government at the Darwin ceremony – said Australia was “proud to support the brave people of Ukraine and their armed forces”.
“Our people are our greatest defence capability,” Keogh said. “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 deputy prime minister, Richard Marles, said the ADF’s contribution to the UK-based training program was called Operation Kudu.
“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,” Marles said.
“The Australian government is committed to standing with Ukraine, in response to Russia’s clear violation of the rules-based order.”
The UK’s Operation Interflex also involves personnel from other countries including New Zealand, Canada, Sweden and Finland. Ukrainian troops, including new recruits, have been travelling to the UK for training under this program.
The Australian training commitment was first announced in October, when the government also said it would provide Ukraine with 30 more Bushmaster vehicles, bringing to 90 the total number promised since Russia’s further invasion of the country last February.
Many of those vehicles are now believed to be in Ukraine although the exact delivery schedule remains shrouded in secrecy.
A Defence spokesperson said the government was “committed to delivering on its current contribution to Ukraine” and it was providing “a steady flow of military assistance to Ukraine with the delivery of previous commitments continuing over the coming months”.
The Australian government says it has provided Ukraine with $655m in support – most of which ($475m) is military assistance.
Previously announced aid includes armoured vehicles, anti-armour weapons, de-mining equipment to remove explosive ordnance, unmanned aerial systems, decoys and remotely operated vehicles.
Tennis Australia on Tuesday confirmed a policy to ban flags from Russia and Belarus anywhere at Melbourne Park for the rest of the year’s Australian Open.
The Russian embassy to Australia responded to the ban by saying it was “another example of unacceptable politicisation of sports”.