Ukraine crisis: Anthony Albanese considers invitation from President Volodymyr Zelensky to visit Kyiv

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Peter LawThe West Australian
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Anthony Albanese hosted state and territory leaders for dinner before the national cabinet meeting.
Camera IconAnthony Albanese hosted state and territory leaders for dinner before the national cabinet meeting. Credit: AAP

Anthony Albanese is considering whether to accept an invitation from Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky for an ‘historic’ visit to Kyiv, as first revealed by The West Australian.

The Prime Minister said he learnt about the invitation when he read about it in the newspapers, though the offer was extended by Ukraine’s embassy soon after he was sworn-in.

The first opportunity to visit the Ukrainian capital would be at the end of this month when Mr Albanese travels to a Nato summit in Madrid.

“I read about that this morning in the paper,” the PM said when asked about Mr Zelensky’s invitation after Friday’s National Cabinet in Canberra.

“I will take appropriate advice and obviously there are security issues as well in terms of such a visit. I appreciate the spirit in which it has been offered.

Volodymyr Zelensky has been forced apart from his wife Olena Zelenska for two and a half months as a result of Vladimir Putin's assault on Ukraine but now the couple are back together and vowing now to back down
Camera IconUkrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. Credit: twitter/supplied

“One of the reasons why Australia has been invited to NATO is that Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to give support to Ukraine in its defence of its national sovereignty against Russia’s illegal, immoral invasion and we will continue to stand with the people of Ukraine.”

Overnight, Moscow blacklisted Seven West Media boss Kerry Stokes and The West Australian’s Editor In Chief Anthony De Ceglie in retaliation for criticising its war against Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Government sanctioned 121 Australian citizens, including business people, army officials and journalist — accusing them of promoting a “Russophobic agenda”.

Other names on the list included WA mining magnates Andrew Forrest and Gina Rinehart, Rio Tinto Iron Ore chief executive Simon Trott, as well as ABC chair Ita Buttrose, News Corp co-chair Lachlan Murdoch and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas.

Mr Malinauskas said: “I am very grateful for the fact that Vladimir Putin has paid attention to the leading role that South Australia is playing in trying to stand up for the democratic values that we collectively as a country hold dear.”

Mr Zelensky’s letter to the PM expressed confidence Australia would continue to provide “invaluable” military support and hope the country would be part of the reconstruction of Ukraine.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, told The West: “Are there any other global issue which will be more important than Ukraine now?

“So if not now, then when (will Mr Albanese visit Ukraine)?

“And if he comes, it’s going to be the first trip ever by a Prime Minister of Australia to Ukraine. That’s going to be totally historic.”

Russian launch offensive in east Ukraine
Camera IconFighting continues in the Ukraine. Credit: AP

Mr Myroshnychenko, who met with the Department of Defence this week, said Ukraine needed more military assistance from Australia to counter Russia’s assault, which is concentrated on the eastern Donbas region.

He said Russia’s attempt to “change borders by force” could set a dangerous precedent in the Indo-Pacific region and the war’s impact on global energy and food supplies was hurting Australian households.

On Monday, Mr Albanese responded to a message of congratulations he received last month from Chinese Premier Li Keqiang — the same day The West Australian revealed Beijing was still waiting for a reply.

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