Peace groups say no to sending army to train Ukrainian soldiers

October 13, 2022
Australian army soldiers and defence minister richard marles
Peace groups say sending troops represents a major escalation of Australia’s involvement in the war. Inset: Defence minister Richard Marles; Photos: Wikimedia Commons

Peace groups have spoken out against the federal government’s “mulling” over sending Australian Defence Force (ADF) troops to Europe to train Ukrainian soldiers.

Australians for War Powers Reform (AFWPR) said on October 12 that any such a plan should be debated in parliament.

Defence minister Richard Marles said a plan was being considered after Prime Minister Anthony Albanese spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

AFWPR president Dr Alison Broinowski said: “A decision of this magnitude should not be taken behind closed doors by a small group of ministers. It must go to parliament for debate and scrutiny.

“The last thing we need is to be slowly drawn into another overseas war that does not directly affect Australia.” She said from past experience “sending advisors or trainers” to wars quickly leads to “more direct involvement”.

AFWPR said ADF troops’ training of Ukrainian troops “would represent a major escalation in Australia’s involvement in the conflict” and go “well beyond the existing program of providing equipment and funds”.

AFWPR said the ADF’s deployment overseas has lacked democratic oversight.

“While many in the community believe that supporting Ukraine against the illegal invasion by Russia is justified, there appears to be almost nothing being done toward negotiations and a ceasefire,” Broinowski said.

“All efforts should be centred on bringing a halt to the appalling loss of life and the widespread destruction of civilian infrastructure.”

The Independent and Peaceful Australia Network said on October 12 that the federal government should “reach out to the United Nations and to Ukraine and the Russian leadership” and call for “an immediate ceasefire and a negotiated settlement of the conflict”.

IPAN spokesperson Annette Brownlie said: “All people and organisations who care about humanity condemn the Russian attacks on cities throughout Ukraine, in response to the unjustified attack on the Kerch bridge by Ukrainian forces supported by NATO.”

Brownlie said there is a “danger” of a “tit-for-tat military response” and that would “lead Ukraine, Russia, Europe and possibly the world into a deeper more dangerous conflict”.

She said where the ADF has been sent to “train” or “advise” in overseas wars, Australia’s involvement in military action has increased.

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