Ukraine holding out for ‘lifeline’ of coal shipment

May 27, 2024 17:24 | News

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia has made a further plea to the federal government for a “lifeline” of coal to be given as aid to the besieged country ahead of another winter of potential power shortages.

Ukrainian officials have appealed to the federal government for another coal shipment to help meet its energy needs as Russia targets power plants with missile and drone attacks.

The country’s ambassador, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, said Ukraine had repeated the calls for coal to the government after there was no response to its first formal request for six months.

“Ukraine needs an all-year round supply of thermal coal, and for us, it’s not a choice, it’s rather a lifeline, because with thermal coal, while Russians are killing us on a daily basis, winter is going to kill more people and winter is coming,” he told ABC TV on Monday.

“It’s also a matter of producing electricity which is necessary for the defence industry to make sure that we can keep on going, that our economy can keep on operating, so it’s a matter of survival for us.”

Defence Minister Richard Marles said Australia would continue to stand alongside Ukraine in its fight against Russia’s invasion.

He did not say whether a further coal shipment would be provided as part of the aid.

Australian Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles
Richard Marles says Australia is focused on providing practical support for Ukraine. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

“The support that we’re providing now is very much focused on military support around allowing Ukraine to prosecute this conflict with Russia, and that is where our focus is, and that is where Ukraine wants our focus to be,” he told reporters in Melbourne.

“We have a very clear dialogue with Ukraine about how best we can provide support, and we are meeting the requests in the most practical way possible.”

The federal government announced a $100 million military aid package to Ukraine in April.

Since the start of the invasion in 2022, the federal government has provided more than $1 billion in support to Ukraine, including $880 million in military assistance.

Mr Myroshnychenko said he hoped a further coal shipment would form part of the aid.

“The winter will be quite brutal, and for us, we need that coal to be able to go through that,” he said.

“At the end of the day, I just hope there will be bipartisan support.”

Opposition foreign spokesman Simon Birmingham said the Ukrainian demands needed to be meet.

“This is a war, and it needs to be treated with real urgency and real necessity in terms of Australia’s support for Ukraine,” he said.

“This is just another example of being too slow and not committed enough in defence of a democratic partner who is under assault from Russia in an illegal and immoral invasion.”

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