Ukraine's president urges ban of Russian vessels from int'l ports

We need new sanctions against Russia, Volodymyr Zelenskyy told Australian federal parliament.

Ukraine's president urges ban of Russian vessels from int'l ports

The Ukrainian president on Thursday urged a ban of Russian vessels from international ports, asking for new sanctions against Moscow.

"We need new sanctions against Russia, powerful sanctions until they stop blackmailing other countries with nuclear missiles. And they have to pay the highest price for blocking the sea," Volodymyr Zelenskyy said during his video address to the Australian federal parliament.

"No Russian vessels should be allowed in other international ports. Buying the oil means paying for the destruction of the global security," Zelenskyy said.

"We have to stop any business activity of Russia, any dollar spent for the destruction of the people. No single dollar (should be allowed) for the destruction of the global security, and we have to stop any intention of Russia to bypass the sanctions."

He underlined that if the world had punished Russia in 2014 for its illegal annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula, "there wouldn't be any of this terror of invasion in Ukraine in 2022."

Noting that Australia has a "very good" armed vehicle Bushmaster, the president said Ukraine would be "very grateful" if Australia can share those vehicles and some other pieces of equipment that could strengthen the country's position in terms of armaments.

On the "Dream" plane -- the largest plane in the world that Russian forces destroyed -- Zelenskyy said: "Russia didn’t destroy our dream, they just burnt down a plane. It’s hardware. Not our freedom. Our dream is undefeatable."

He also asked for international help for the restoration of Ukraine.

"We invite prominent countries of the world's leading companies and the best experts to join the project of the restoration of Ukraine to take a city or a sector under your auspices that would require restoration."

Australia vows to provide further military support

The Australian government will provide further military support to Ukraine "in response to Russia’s brutal, unrelenting and illegal invasion," at the request of the Ukrainian government and president, the Australian Prime Minister’s Office said in a statement following Zelenskyy's address.

"To meet that request, in partnership with the Australian defence industry, we will provide an additional $25 million AUD (around $18.7 million) of defensive military assistance for the Ukrainian Armed Forces," the statement said, adding it will bring the total military assistance so far to $116 million.

The new assistance will include tactical decoys, unmanned aerial and unmanned ground systems, rations, and medical supplies.

"On top of this support is Australia’s $65 million of humanitarian assistance, 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal to meet Ukraine’s energy needs, as well as temporary protection visas and support for Ukrainian community groups in Australia," it noted.

The office also said the government will not provide additional details of the package or delivery of arrangements.

"We will continue to impose the maximum costs against Russia through targeted sanctions on individuals and entities, including President (Vladimir) Putin and his circle of oligarchs and propagandists, military commanders and members of Parliament," the statement concluded.

The Russia-Ukraine war, which started on Feb. 24, has been met with international outrage, with the EU, US and the UK, among others, implementing tough financial sanctions on Moscow.

At least 1,189 civilians have been killed in Ukraine and 1,901 injured, according to estimates by the UN, which cautioned that the true figure is likely far higher.

More than 4 million Ukrainians have also fled to several European countries, with millions more displaced inside the country, according to the UN refugee agency.