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Australia to give drones to Ukraine, expand sanctions against Russia
Australia will supply Ukraine with drones worth $33 million and introduce additional sanctions against Russian military, government, and media figures, the Guardian reported on Feb. 23, citing the Australian government.
According to the country's Defense Minister Richard Marles, the drones will "provide a battlefield intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability to the Ukrainian armed forces" as they are not armed.
The announcement comes on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Since it started, Australia has contributed about $510 million to military assistance for Ukraine, including the Feb. 23 drone commitment, according to the Guardian.
Australia will also freeze assets and introduce travel bans for 90 more Russian individuals and 40 entities, bringing the total number of sanctioned people or organizations to 1,000.
Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said, as quoted by the Guardian, that the new measures were "targeting those in the Russian government who are helping prolong this war, those financing this war, and those spreading mistruths to justify this war."
The list includes Patriarch Kirill, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, the state-owned media outlet Sputnik, Konstantin Ernst, the chief of Russian state-controlled Channel One, and the Task Force Rusich, a Russian far-right paramilitary unit that has been fighting in Ukraine's east.
In late January, Australia and France announced their intention to produce several thousand artillery shells for Ukraine in a joint multi-million dollar project.