Australia has issued more than 7000 visas to Ukrainians looking to flee the European country in the wake of Russia’s invasion.
New figures from the Department of Home Affairs also revealed more than 3000 arrivals have been recorded of Ukrainian nationals entering Australia on any type of visa since the war began in late February.
Of the 7000 visas granted since February 23, most of the visas have been temporary.
The temporary visa is valid for three years, which allows for people to work, study and access services such as Medicare.
A departmental spokesman said hundreds of visas had also been granted to Ukrainian nationals who were now in other countries outside of Ukraine.
“The Department of Home Affairs is progressing visa applications from Ukrainian nationals as a priority, particularly for those with a connection to Australia,” the spokesman told AAP.
Australia will give Ukraine more heavy artillery weapons and ammunition, as Russia steps up its offensive in the Donbas.
The $26.7 million package of military assistance will see Ukraine provided with six M777 lightweight towed howitzers along with ammunition.
It takes Australia’s military assistance contribution to Ukraine to $225 million, with a further $65 million provided in humanitarian aid along with more than 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement the equipment offers further support to combat Russia’s “brutal, unrelenting and illegal invasion”.
“The Australian government will continue to identify opportunities for further military assistance where it is able to provide a required capability to the Ukraine Armed Forces expeditiously,” Mr Morrison said.
“The Australian government reiterates our strongest support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the people of Ukraine.
“Australia stands with the people of Ukraine, and again calls on Russia to cease its unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
The new support package comes as Australian representatives attended a meeting hosted by US Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin on the response to Ukraine.
Australia was one of 40 nations in attendance at the meeting at the US Ramstein Air Base in Germany, where Mr Austin pledged additional military support for Ukraine.
Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia Vasyl Myroshnychenko has highlighted the need for more military equipment to be sent to the besieged nation.
Alex Mitchell and Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)