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15 Jan, 2024 08:34

Australia to scrap choppers requested by Ukraine – media

Canberra has reportedly not responded to Kiev’s calls to donate decommissioned MRH-90 Taipan helicopters
Australia to scrap choppers requested by Ukraine – media

Australia is moving forward with plans to scrap dozens of military helicopters which Ukraine and its supporters believe should be donated to Kiev, ABC News reported on Sunday.

The Australian Department of Defense retired the MRH-90 Taipan fleet last September, after an incident claimed the lives of four service members. The choppers were decommissioned 14 months ahead of schedule, with 38 remaining in service at the time. In December, the Ukrainian government made an official request to donate them for its war effort against Russia, according to the report, but Canberra is nevertheless moving forwards with its plans.

The Defense Department “will dispose of the remaining airframes and systems in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner,” the news outlet quoted a spokesperson as saying.

The Ukrainian ambassador in Australia, Vasily Miroshnichenko, told ABC News he was “hoping that there’s still a possibility” that the remaining MRH-90s would be given to his nation, since he had not received an official response.

The Australian government highlighted its military assistance to Ukraine when asked about Kiev’s request for the helicopters.

“Already we’ve devoted AUD 910 million [US$608 million] worth of expenditure. About AUD 730 million of that is on military equipment,” acting Defense Minister Matt Thistlethwaite told journalists earlier this month. “It includes 120 Bushmasters [armored vehicles], it includes a wedgetail aircraft, it includes many artillery vehicles, it includes artillery and howitzers.”

Officials in Kiev have complained that a shortage of Western-donated arms and equipment have undermined its war effort. Ukraine has also asked for more advanced weapons, such as longer-range missiles and F-16 fighter jets.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan was strong-armed last month into giving civilian vehicles to Kiev instead of scrapping them as required by the British capital’s environmental rules. Meanwhile, Argentina reportedly offered Ukraine two Russian-produced Mil Mi171E rescue helicopters, which it had difficulties flying on its own.

Moscow has said that the continued arming of Ukraine will only prolong the conflict, but will not alter the outcome. Western donors are seeking to damage Russia with no regard for Ukrainian lives, Russian officials have claimed.