National | Russia

Defence Force staff head to Europe to assist Ukraine support effort

New Zealand will contribute Defence Force personnel and logistics equipment to the conflict in Ukraine plus funding for weapons, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Defence Minister Peeni Henare confirmed today.

They confirmed a Hercules C-130 with 50 personnel will depart for Europe on Wednesday, where they will be based for two months at the direct request of the UK. Another eight logistic specialists will be based in Germany where they will lend support to the international effort to deploy aid and supplies to Ukraine.

“Our support is to assist the Ukraine Army to repel a brutal Russian invasion because peace in the region of Europe is essential for global stability,” Ardern said.

“Such a blatant attack on a country’s sovereignty is a threat to all of us and that’s why we too have a role to play.

“The global response has seen an unprecedented level of military support pledged for Ukraine, and more help to transport and distribute it is urgently needed, and so we will do our bit to help."

The government has also pledged a further $13.1m toward military and legal and human rights support.

Money for weapons

That includes contributions to weapons and ammunition procurement by the UK, providing Ukrainian intelligence access to commercial satellites.

The finding includes$1m to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights while $500,000 will be for the International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court.

Henare says today's announcements are a substantial contribution to international efforts to the 'unprovoked, unjustified and illegal' invasion of Ukraine in February.

“These measures today follow decisions in recent weeks by the government to help support Ukraine, including the supply of a range of defence equipment requested by Ukraine, and the deployment of nine defence intelligence and liaison personnel.

“Over the next few months, our team will travel throughout Europe transporting much-needed equipment and supplies to key distribution centres but at no point will they enter Ukraine," Henare says.

The deployment is in addition to support measures already announced by the government, including nine NZ Defence Force staff already in Europe, the supply of tactical equipment, and funds of $5m to NATO.

To date, at least 24,000 people have lost their lives in the conflict while 11 million people have been displaced from their homes since Russian troops invaded Ukraine.