Barnaby Joyce has likened Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to Australia invading New Zealand.
The Deputy Prime Minister, and former NZ citizen, said the aggression was no way to treat a “sister country” in a bizarre lashing of President Vladimir Putin.
“This is a disaster. It’s like if Australia was going to invade New Zealand – we’ve got two countries that should be closer to each other than just about anyone else in the world,” he told ABC News Breakfast.
“I would say Mr Putin, not the Russians, Mr Putin singularly has decided in a totalitarian way to inflict carnage, death and destruction on his sister country.”
The United Nations says 227 civilians have been killed and 525 injured during the conflict in Ukraine so far.
Earlier this week, Australia confirmed it would take up the call from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to send lethal aid.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison pledged $70m to NATO to bolster weapons shipments, such as missiles and ammunition, in addition to $35m for humanitarian support.
An Australian Air Force transport plane left for Europe on Wednesday carrying critical military equipment and medical supplies.
Asked to shed light on what exactly the government sent to Ukraine, Mr Joyce declined to answer.
“As deputy chair of the national security committee, I can reliably inform you that it’s up to 15 years in jail if you say what goes on in that meeting,” he said.
“So, I’m not going to go into the details of what’s in that shipment.”
But host Lisa Miller pressed further: “So, we’re not gonna know what we’re sending to Ukraine?”
“To be quite frank, I would leave that for the Defence Minister, if he believes it’s appropriate to give further details on that,” Mr Joyce shot back.