PM announces extra military, humanitarian support for Ukraine

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has today announced a new $75 million aid package for Ukraine and warned Europe is facing a catastrophic refugee crisis caused by the Russian attack.

The Federal Government announced it will send more weapons, humanitarian supplies and coal to Ukraine as the fourth week of the Russian invasion begins.

Mr Morrison repeated his calls for Russia to cease fighting in Ukraine and withdraw its forces from the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced new Australian support for Ukraine worth almost $75 million. (Nine)

“Russia’s actions are a gross violation of international law. A gross violation of the principles that support a rules based order that favours freedom,” Mr Morrison said.

The Prime Minister said the new support package has come after requests from the Ukrainian authorities.

It includes an additional $21 million for military equipment including ammunition and body armour, bringing total Australian military support to $91 million.

There will also be an additional $30 million for emergency humanitarian relief to tackle what Mr Morrison said was a growing refugee exodus into Europe.

“We know that Russia’s actions have targeted civilians and it is disgraceful, causing carnage and devastation, unimaginable suffering, and the exodus of over 3 million people. This is creating a humanitarian crisis,” Mr Morrison.

The Federal Government has to date provided 5000 visas for Ukrainian refugees and was putting Ukrainian visa applications top priority, he said.

Australia is providing a new round of humanitarian relief for Ukrainian refugees. (Getty)

The 70,000 tonnes of coal is being sent after Ukrainian authorities requested it to help keep the country’s electricity grid running.

Mr Morrison said the coal shipment was “incredibly important” and would help provide power for one million Ukrainians.

“This will help Ukraine’s power generators operating and supplying electricity to the power grid at this critical time.”

That request came after Russian forces captured Ukraine’s largest nuclear power station.

Mr Morrison also said a shipment of Australian alumina – a material that can be used in arms manufacture – scheduled to leave Australia for Russia would not be permitted to exit the country.

“That boat is not going to Russia with our alumina,” Mr Morrison said.

“Russia must pay a very high price for its brutality.”

Foreign Minister Marise Payne said there would be extra funding for vulnerable Ukrainian people.

“We will provide $8 million to the United Nations Population Fund to protect displaced women and girls from gender-based violence and ensure access to sexual and reproductive health services,” Ms Payne said.

“To help address increasingly severe food shortages, Australia will also contribute $10 million to the World Food Program.”

Fears hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers killed

Meanwhile, there are fears scores of Ukrainian soldiers have been killed and many others are trapped under rubble following a Russian attack on a military base in Mykolaiv in south-east Ukraine.

There were 200 soldiers sleeping in the barracks when missiles hit the base.

Dozens of troops are reported to have been killed in the attack.

Ukrainian soldiers carry a body through debris at the military base hit by Russian bombing in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, on March 19. (Bulent Kilic/AFP/Getty Images) (CNN)

It is believed Russian warplanes dropped five bombs on the base.

Rescuers at the scene have been using shovels and their bare hands to free survivors from the rubble of the buildings.

CNN Swedish affiliate Expressen quoted one of the surviving soldiers, 54-year-old Serhil, who was sleeping in the barracks opposite where the attack hit, as saying, “of the approximately 200 who were there, I would guess about 90 per cent did not survive.”

“Glass flew everywhere. I prayed to God that I would have time to take shelter before more bombs came. There are always more bombs,” Nikita, a 22-year-old Ukrainian soldier, said.

Mykolaiv, a southern city that sits along the Black Sea, has been a frequent target of Russian attacks.

February 19, 2022, shows a MiG-31K fighter of the Russian air force carrying a Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missile parked at an air field during a military drills.
Russia has admitted is fired a Kinzhal hypersonic cruise missile during an air attack on a Ukraine target. (Russian Defense Ministry Press Service via AP)

It is seen as a strategic target for Russian land forces in any move to capture Ukraine’s third-largest city, Odesa, which lies further west along the coast.

The attack on the barracks came after US officials confirmed that Russia launched hypersonic missiles against Ukraine last week, the first known use of such missiles in combat.

Russia’s Ministry of Defence said on Saturday a powerful hypersonic “Kinzhal” missile destroyed a military ammunitions warehouse in western Ukraine on Friday.

Russia ‘purposefully and cynically’ destroys drama centre in besieged city

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