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ABC News
Alicia Perera and Myles Houlbrook-Walk

Ukraine Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko welcomes ADF training commitment as first troops deploy from Darwin

Ukraine's ambassador to Australia has praised ADF troops travelling to the UK to help train Ukrainian recruits for providing "essential" assistance to his country's fight against Russia. 

As a contingent of about 70 soldiers departed Darwin today, Vasyl Myroshnychenko welcomed the move to bolster Ukraine's defences against Vladimir Putin's ongoing invasion – a commitment made by the federal government in October.

He said the UK-led program the troops would be part of – which includes a host of other European countries as well as Canada and New Zealand – marked a "very important step" in the war effort.

"That will help train about 20,000 Ukrainians who have recently volunteered to join the Ukrainian armed forces," he said.

"I think this is a great thing for Australia to do.

"At the end of the day, we have to win this war, and military support, and having that military support coming from Australia, is essential."

Wednesday's deployment is one of four, three-month rotations of Darwin-based troops that will be deployed to the UK throughout 2023.

Once there, they will be working with other countries taking part to provide infantry and tactical training to Ukrainians who have recently volunteered to defend their country.

"The training they're going to be conducting over there is going to be infantry-based," said Commanding Officer of 5th Battalion Royal Australian Regiment, Lieutenant Colonel Chris Gilmore. 

"It's about taking the Ukrainian recruits and making sure that we can prepare them as best they can for any potential eventuality they may face – be that from operations in urban terrain, in wooded terrain, in trench warfare.

"And then from there we just make sure that they have the best survivability they can." 

He said in the lead-up, weapons training and developing the troops' language skills had been the focus of their preparations. 

Federal Veterans' Affairs Minister Matt Keogh said the deployment was a further step in the military assistance Australia had provided to Ukraine. 

"We have been assisting Ukraine over a long period of time now, with the provision of equipment ... to make sure that they have been able to take the fight up to their aggressor. But of course, it can't just all be done with equipment," he said.

"Members of our Australian Defence Force are the most important capability that we have, and so being able to assist those that are fighting ... to be able to fight better, to fight smarter, is going to provide a fundamental increase in capability to Ukraine.

"It's important that Ukraine is able to take up the fight, not just with more equipment, but with soldiers that are able to take up that fight so that Ukraine can bring an end to this conflict on its own terms." 

Mr Keogh said Australia's participation in the training program would be assessed over the course of the year.

Mr Myroshnychenko reiterated calls made earlier this week for Australia to send more military equipment to assist Ukraine, including tanks, more Bushmasters and more M113 armoured personnel carriers.

Mr Keogh said the federal government would continue to speak to the Ukrainian government and defence force around supplies of military equipment, but no further decisions had been made.

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