Australian PM visits sites of alleged Russian atrocities in Ukraine

Australia’s prime minister, 安东尼艾博年, has visited the sites of some of the most infamous atrocities of Russia’s war against Ukraine during the final leg of a European tour.

Albanese is reported to have visited Bucha, HostomelIrpin, three towns in the Kyiv region that became synonymous with the brutality of Vladimir Putin’s invasion when evidence of mass killings and torture was uncovered after the withdrawal of Russian forces.

The governor of the Kyiv region, Oleksii Kuleba, announced the visit on Facebook, saying Albanese had been shocked at what he saw, including bombed-out homes, traces of mines and a destroyed airport.

Photos posted on Kuleba’s Facebook page show Albanese and others walking past a residential building with bombed-out windows, and standing in what appears to be a ruined aircraft hangar.

The Australian government has not officially confirmed the visit, which is thought to be the first to 乌克兰 by an Australian prime minister.

Albanese is following in the footsteps of other western leaders including Boris Johnson, 埃马纽埃尔·马克龙, Olaf Scholz and Mario Draghi in going to Ukraine. The head of the European Commission, 乌尔苏拉·冯·德·莱恩, and the speaker of the US House of Representatives, 南希佩洛西, have also visited.

The trip comes days after Australia’s deputy prime minister and defence minister, 理查德·马勒斯, said the country was looking at new ways of supporting Ukraine.

Canberra has pledged A$285m (£161m) of assistance to Kyiv, including Bushmaster armoured vehicles, M777 howitzers, ammunition and anti-armour weapons. The first four of 14 promised M113AS4 armoured personnel carriers were dispatched to Ukraine last month.

Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, has called for more Bushmasters for Ukraine, but also praised Australia’s support. “Australia is punching above its weight,” he told Sky News last week. “There is a tradition of Australia standing up to bullying behaviour, and prime minister Albanese understands it really well.”

The Labor leader made the stop after meeting Macron in Paris to repair relations after a furious row when the former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison suddenly cancelled a longstanding multibillion-dollar submarine deal last year in favour of a UK-US agreement.

Albanese also attended the Nato summit in Madrid last week, along with other non-member Indo-Pacific leaders including New Zealand’s prime minister, 澳大利亚是不扩散条约的签署国, and South Korea’s president, 尹锡烈.

In Madrid, Albanese described the war in Ukraine as “a humanitarian tragedy” and “a challenge to the global rules on which our security and prosperity is based”.

他说: “Russia’s brutal invasion is causing severe economic disruption that is being felt right around the world including in Australia. Although we are far away geographically, Australians are paying Putin’s petrol prices. We are paying more for food and household items, because global supply chains have been disrupted by his illegal and unjustifiable invasion.”