Prime Minister, Chris Hipkins, has announced a significant expansion of New Zealand defence commitments as part of the ongoing international response to Russia’s illegal invasion.
The Prime Minister announced the defence boost as well as more humanitarian, legal and economic support for Ukraine while visiting NZDF personnel training Ukrainian troops at the Salisbury Plain Army Training Area outside of London.
“For more than a year New Zealand has stood with the people of Ukraine as they have been subject to a brutal, unrelenting and illegal invasion by Russia,” Mr Hipkins said.
“Since February last year New Zealand has taken significant and unprecedented actions to support Ukraine, including the deployment of NZDF troops into Europe and passing the Russia Sanctions Act that has enabled us to impose targeted sanctions for the first time outside of the UN framework.”
Over the past year, New Zealand has contributed more than $78 million of financial and military support to Ukraine, as well as support for Ukraine’s legal case against Russia, sanctions targeting more than 1,500 Russian and Belarussian individuals and entities, and trade measures.
“Today’s package shows our resolve has not waned and our ongoing support for Ukraine and the international response has not diminished,” the Prime Minister said.
“Unfortunately the conflict appears set to continue for some time. We and likeminded partners will not back off and allow Russia to impose their might on the innocent people of Ukraine,” he said.
Defence Minister Andrew Little said NZDF personnel have been in Europe for more than a year and the deployments had been highly valued by Ukraine and key partners.
“So far 440 NZDF personnel have been deployed to support Ukraine, with 279 directly involved in the artillery and infantry training delivered in the UK,” said Mr Little.
“Infantry training teams deployed to the United Kingdom have trained more than 1000 members of the Armed Forces of Ukraine so far. Last year the NZDF artillery team trained almost 300 Ukrainians on the L119 Gun.
“The extension of this deployment of 95 personnel providing training and supporting for the Ukrainian armed forces for a further year demonstrates both our ongoing commitment to the defence of their homeland as well as the value of this commitment.”
In addition to infantry training, the NZDF has been invited by the United States to support training of Ukrainian personnel in western-led space operations and increase their interoperability with likeminded partners.
“This work may also include the training of Polish Armed Forces personnel,” Mr Little said.
NZDF personnel deployed to Europe will not enter Ukraine, he confirmed.
The NZDF will conclude its contribution of New Zealand-based open-source intelligence capability, which commenced in March 2022 to support the UK and other European partners’ intelligence requirements. More than 12 months on from the start of the invasion, this intelligence area no longer requires New Zealand support.
“New Zealand is putting in place further sanctions targeting a total of 18 entities and 9 individuals that are supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said.
“These sanctions cover senior leaders of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s internal security and intelligence service, the FSB itself, as well as other Russian individuals and entities who develop and procure weapons, technology and communication systems, and provide services such as transport and insurance – all vital to Russia’s ability to wage war.
“Iranian individuals and entities are also being sanctioned for providing direct military support to Russia for its illegal war in Ukraine.
“These sanctions are working. Our comprehensive trade sanctions have effectively decoupled the New Zealand and Russian economies. Since our trade sanctions were put in place total imports have fallen by almost ninety nine percent.
“We continue to condemn Russia’s egregious and illegal actions. We repeat our call for President Putin to cease Russia’s war against Ukraine, withdraw troops and then enter diplomatic negotiations to resolve this war,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
More information about diplomatic, military, legal and economic support to Ukraine, as well as sanctions, travel bans and export controls against Russia, can be found on the MFAT site here.