Page 480 - Week 02 - Wednesday, 23 March 2022
there are many in our community who have heard directly from their friends and relatives. We have also witnessed unparalleled bravery and defiance on the part of Ukrainian citizens, amongst those who stayed to defend their homes and amongst those who have had to leave their communities to seek safety in other countries.
This invasion comes after months of escalating rhetoric and deployment of massive military forces at the Ukrainian border. In moving this resolution this morning, I do so because this jurisdiction has a strong history of supporting and strengthening human rights, multiculturalism and diplomacy, and it is appropriate that we join with other nations and subnational jurisdictions across the globe in strongly condemning Russia’s actions.
Earlier this month, on 2 March, in an emergency session, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution that it “deplores in the strongest terms the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine” and demanded that Russia “immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw all military forces from Ukraine”. Australia was one of the 141 United Nations member states voting in favour of this resolution and, like many other countries, has introduced a range of sanctions against Russia, as well as providing material support to Ukraine.
Madam Speaker, the Russian invasion has created a significant humanitarian crisis. Every night on the TV news we are seeing heartbreaking images of Ukrainians attempting to flee towns and cities across the country or having to shelter in basements from air strikes. We have seen cities and buildings destroyed and the very devastating impact of military conflict on the individuals and families who are caught in the crossfire.
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has confirmed that there have been more than 2,000 civilian casualties, including nearly 800 deaths, as of 17 March. However, it is expected that the actual numbers are significantly higher than this. The distress that we are all feeling is undoubtedly heightened amongst Canberra’s Ukrainian community and amongst Canberrans with ties to the region, including those who have family and friends caught up in the conflict.
This motion today is a small but important opportunity for this place to voice our support not only for Canberra’s Ukrainian community, Australia’s Ukrainian community, but, importantly, the people of Ukraine and their democratically elected government.
I want to acknowledge this morning the many Canberrans with historical and family ties to Russia who join with us in condemning the invasion, many of whom are extremely concerned for their loved ones. I want to particularly highlight the courage of those many Russians who are resisting the war in many ways, who have protested against the war in their own country, on the streets and, on one incredible occasion, behind a TV newsreader. They have paid for their courage through detention and worse. But they remind us that this is Vladimir Putin’s war. This is not a war of country against country. It is to fire one man’s vanity and delusions of grandeur, and it comes at a massive cost to his own people, the Ukrainian people and the many thousands of lives that will be lost.