Ukraine looks for Australian artillery

·3-min read

Ukraine's ambassador has called for more artillery and ammunition from Australia after a counter-offensive in the nation's east saw Kyiv retake a key town from Russian control.

Vasyl Myrochnychenko says artillery is needed to hold onto the reclaimed Kharkiv, as he praised the Australian government for the Bushmaster armoured personnel vehicles that helped "liberate" the region.

"You've seen them perform really well, liberate Ukraine, this is awesome and everyone is talking about Australia," he told AAP.

The ambassador says the Australian government could supply six or 12 howitzers after Canberra provided six lightweight, towed howitzers in April.

"What is most important now are artillery guns and ammunition," he said.

Ukraine will also need long-range missiles, tanks and eventually fighter jets to win the war, but the ambassador acknowledged such support would only be able to be supplied by the United States.

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles has described Ukraine's resolve to push Russia out of its territory as "nothing less than inspiring" and promised ongoing support.

Mr Marles has pledged Australia will continue to back Ukraine as it resists Russian aggression.

"I don't think anyone imagined that Ukraine would stand up in the way that they have and it has been heroic," he told ABC radio on Monday.

"I don't think there's anything inevitable about the outcome - this needs ongoing support."

Mr Marles, who is also the defence minister, said the west needed to fight for a rules-based order.

"It's completely unacceptable a large country seeks to impose itself on a smaller neighbour, not by reference to any international rule of law, but by reference to might and power," he said.

"That proposition simply can't stand."

Opposition foreign affairs spokesman Simon Birmingham said Australia needed to redouble its efforts.

"Australia's provision of weapons of vehicles, financial aid, humanitarian aid relief, all positioned us as the leading non-NATO contributor to the Ukraine cause right around the world," he told the ABC.

"We ought to make sure we continue that type of effort."

Senator Birmingham said the government needed to listen carefully to the type of support Ukraine was calling for and provide such assistance where possible.

"We've seen the US step up, Australia ought to be doing likewise," he said.

The war in Ukraine is expected to be on the agenda of a meeting between Chinese president Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin at a summit in Uzbekistan this week.

The unpredictability of Mr Putin and the risk of a nuclear conflict has also raised concerns in the west as Russia weighs up how to respond to Ukraine's offensive.

The chief of Defence Science and Technology Group's information sciences hypothesised that a full-scale cyber offensive against Russia could provoke the Russian president to reach into the nation's nuclear arsenal.

"If you imagine for a moment the kind of horror scenario where suddenly you don't have telecommunications, any energy, no banking system, no personal records," Dr Dale Lambert said.

"You have no idea what's going on because you've got no social media or no news services.

"Imagine if that was projected onto Russia, how would the Russians respond? My guess is they might respond through the nuclear option."