New Zealand on Wednesday announced increasing its support for Ukraine and extended the deployment of its defense forces for another year.
In a statement, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins and Defense Minister Andrew Little said the deployment of 95 New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel training and supporting Ukrainian armed forces has now been extended until June 30, 2024.
“For more than a year, New Zealand has stood with the people of Ukraine as they have been subject to a brutal, unrelenting, and illegal invasion by Russia,” Hipkins said during his visit to the Salisbury Plain Army Training Area outside of London, where NZDF personnel are based.
New Zealand also announced around NZ$5.3 million (approximately over $3.3 million) of additional humanitarian support for Ukrainians.
“Since February last year, New Zealand has taken significant and unprecedented actions to support Ukraine, including the deployment of NZDF troops into Europe and passing the Russia Sanctions Act that has enabled us to impose targeted sanctions for the first time outside of the UN framework,” said the prime minister.
So far, New Zealand has contributed NZ$78 million (approximately over $48 million) of financial and military support to Ukraine and imposed sanctions on 1,500 Russian and Belarussian individuals and entities, according to the statement.
“Unfortunately the conflict appears set to continue for some time. We and like-minded partners will not back off and allow Russia to impose their might on the innocent people of Ukraine,” Hipkins said.
According to Defense Minister Andrew Little, 440 NZDF personnel were deployed to support Ukraine, with 279 directly involved in the artillery and infantry training delivered in the UK and they trained over 1,000 Ukrainian soldiers.
However, he clarified that NZDF personnel in Europe will not enter Ukraine.
New Zealand sanctions Russian, Iranian officials
Meanwhile, New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta announced further sanctions against 18 entities and nine individuals supporting Russia’s war against Ukraine.
“These sanctions cover senior leaders of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB), Russia’s internal security and intelligence service, the FSB itself, as well as other Russian individuals and entities who develop and procure weapons, technology and communication systems, and provide services such as transport and insurance – all vital to Russia’s ability to wage war,” she said.
“Iranian individuals and entities are also being sanctioned for providing direct military support to Russia for its illegal war in Ukraine,” Mahuta added.
*Writing by Islamuddin Sajid
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