Ukraine war to trigger migration wave: PM

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Australia will likely face a migration wave stemming from eastern Europe after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison says.

Mr Morrison said the conflict had pushed the world into a position similar to the post-WWII period and predicted Russia's attack in Ukraine would continue.

"We have seen that bullying, we've seen that coercion in our own region, we've seen it from China, we've seen it from Russia, we've seen it from other nations from time to time, and the world needs to deal with this," Mr Morrison said.

"We won't sit passively and allow the complete turning of the tables on the international order by those who would seek to change it by sheer force and coercion."

The prime minister says Australia "can and should" continue to send weapons and aid to Ukraine.

"It sends a message to all those others that would seek to try, that Australia is no soft touch under my government when it comes to protecting not just our national security, but the peace and freedom of our region," Mr Morrison said.

Ukrain's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says the "Battle of Donbas" has begun, as Russia launches a new offensive in the country's east.

Russian missile strikes were also reported in the western city of Lviv.

One Ukrainian minister has put the cost of Russia's invasion at over $136 billion, saying the Kremlin has damaged or destroyed up to 30 per cent of the country's infrastructure.

Deputy Russian ambassador to the United Nations Dmitry Polyanskiy says the Kremlin wanted to save as many civilian lives as possible, as opposed to completely levelling cities.

Mr Polyanskiy said there was no proof Russia was targeting civilians.

"We could have acted as the US army did in Raqqa (Syria) or Mosul (Iraq), simply erasing the cities from the face of the earth, but we didn't want to do this," he told the ABC.

"We tried to do it carefully, avoiding civilian casualties."

Mr Polyanskiy continued to promulgate the Kremlin's line of the invasion being launched on the basis of "de-Nazification and de-militarisation" of Ukraine.

Despite the envoy's denials, the UN's Human Rights chief and governments worldwide have raised concerns at war crimes being committed in Ukraine by Russian soldiers, including the targeting and torture of civilians, widespread rape and executions.

Save the Children says the situation is becoming more dangerous for children as aerial attacks on cities continue.

"The attacks of the past few days remind us loud and clear: there is no safe place here for children, and the situation is changing by the day," the organisation's Ukraine director Pete Walsh said.

"When there are aerial bombardments, children on the move without shelter or cover are more vulnerable. Some children in Ukraine have spent eight years living in conflict."

Two-thirds of Ukrainian children have been uprooted from their homes and signs of psychological distress are emerging from across the country, Mr Walsh said.

with Reuters

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