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PM set to extend Ukraine crisis support

Australia will commit an initial payment of more than $4 million to Ukraine for military assistance, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has confirmed.

The $US3 million payment will go to NATO’s Trust Fund for Ukraine to support non-lethal military equipment and medical supplies.

Mr Morrison says details of Australia’s lethal aid support are still being finalised but he will be speaking to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday.

“I actually got a message from the president of Ukraine last night. Very appreciative of what Australia was doing and the stance we’ve taken but also extending our support to lethal aid,” he told Brisbane’s 4BC radio.

“We’ll make an announcement later … about an important humanitarian package of support financially that will assist in places like Poland and other neighbouring countries, where we’re seeing large numbers of displaced people arrive.”

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said the full details of the support package, including lethal military aid, will be revealed after it is finalised with international partners.

“It is not going to be the same sort of quantum that the United States or the United Kingdom would provide, but where we can act is in joining the international efforts to put in place sanctions,” he told ABC Radio National.

Australian-targeted financial sanctions and travel bans on Russian President Vladimir Putin and members of Russia’s Security Council came into effect at midnight on Sunday.

The treasurer said the sanctions the Australian government put in place last week have already had an effect on Russia’s economy.

But he said it is “no secret” Putin has ambitions beyond invading Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin starts with Ukraine, but who’s next? That is the question,” he said.

“This is the first major interstate conflict within Europe since the Nazis were defeated. This is a direct challenge to the international rules-based order that has underpinned prosperity in Europe for more than 70 years.”

Labor frontbencher Jim Chalmers said Australia needs to do whatever is necessary to support Ukraine both financially and with weapons.

“The world should speak as one in supporting (Ukrainians), their courage, and their efforts,” he told Sky News.

“Whether that is support with weapons (or) on the cybersecurity front, whether it is tightening the screws on the Russian economy – all of these things should be stepped up if they can.”

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce said any threats made by Russia to use nuclear weapons should be taken seriously.

“We hope that he is just using provocative language and he has no intention of backing it up,” he told Seven’s Sunrise program on Monday.

“The smartest thing for Mr Putin to do is to stop.”

Meanwhile Mr Frydenberg has warned Australians not to travel to Ukraine to take part in military action.

“Do not go into the conflict zone,” he said.

“Under Australian law, Australian citizens cannot go and fight in conflict zones unless they’re fighting with a foreign government and a foreign army, but we have very clear travel advice … please do not travel into a conflict zone.”

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