Minister of Defence, Peeni Henare held talks in the UK today with his counterpart, Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace.
The Ministers reflected on the strong historical and cultural ties between the United Kingdom and New Zealand and reiterated the importance of their defence relationship.
Together, they also visited some of the 120 NZDF personnel training members of the Ukrainian armed forces. Secretary Wallace was formally welcomed with a Powhiri at the training headquarters.
“This was an important opportunity to continue the excellent working relationship between our countries, and discuss pressing security challenges facing us,” Mr Henare said.
“The UK is a key defence partner for New Zealand, and our Defence Forces maintain close working relationships founded on common operational history, interoperability and strong people-to-people links. Our forces work very well together, as evidenced through recent NZDF support to the UK-led artillery and infantry training programmes for Ukrainian recruits.”
The Ministers discussed areas of common security interest including Russia’s illegal and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, regeneration of the Defence Forces, the global security environment, and respective policy updates.
The visit to the training programme demonstrated the important work NZDF personnel are doing to help Ukraine defend their territorial integrity, Mr Henare said.
“New Zealand recognises the UK’s leading role in coordinating the international response in Ukraine, and I would like to thank my friend and colleague Secretary Wallace for the support the UK and its Armed Forces have shown and provided to our NZDF assets and personnel deployed to Europe in support,” he said.
“What was evident to me today, is our kiwi personnel are able to come in with ease and do the job alongside some of the best in the world. This training exercise is not about who does it better, it’s about how we can help the Ukrainians get what they need.
“I am proud of the contribution our people are making to support Ukraine in their time of need, and have seen first-hand the positive impact the training is having on members of the Ukrainian armed forces.”
Today’s visit presents New Zealand’s first official in-person engagement with the new British Government under Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak.