National

Has a four-week delay in sending lethal aid to Ukraine cost lives?

New Zealand has finally upped its contribution and support for Ukraine after sustained public pressure and desperate pleas from the war-torn country.

7.5 million dollars will be spent on lethal military aid, we’re sending 50 Defence personnel, and our C-130H(NZ) Hercules to help with transportation.

Joining Tova on Tuesday morning was Rear Admiral James Gilmour, Commander of the Joint Forces to discuss when the Defence Force first proposed to the government to send lethal aid to Ukraine.

"The first thing I'd say is that the options have been many and varied since the conflict and the invasion began in Ukraine. In fact, even before. Our role has been to work up our military response options for government. We do that nice and early, and we constantly revise that advice as we watched the situation unfold."

"It's actually been many weeks and in fact, almost over a month since we started formulating options that government may consider. And progressively over the past four weeks, various options have been selected."

"And of course, there was a development yesterday from Cabinet accepting that we would be pushing forward a C-130 Hercules logistics detachment that will assist with coordinating the massive donor effort that's going in across Europe, in from around the world, and, of course, intelligence support that's on top of funding."

The Rear Admiral told Tova on Tuesday morning that the government's decision to wait has not had any impact on saving lives in Ukraine. 

He backed the decision to send funding instead of weapons, adding that the process of sending weapons from New Zealand to Ukraine would be a long and complex process, and by the time any weapons arrived, they might not be needed anymore.

Gilmour wasn't able to comment on the Prime Ministers' statement that 'our javelins would only last 5 minutes in Ukraine', however, he did confirm that they would certainly be a finite resource.

"Whether it lasts five minutes or not I cannot comment other than to say the stocks of Javelin missiles we have is very modest and they would be expended very quickly." 

He is hopeful that the C-130 Hercules aircraft being sent to Europe will be able to provide logistics transfer across Europe by early next week.

The plane will take around five days to fly from New Zealand to the UK where it will be initially based.

Read Admiral Gilmour clarified that our defence personnel are not being sent over to fight against Russia, but more to help with supplies and logistics.

"To make it clear, none of our personnel will be entering Ukraine. We will be operating to border countries for logistics transfer and if that calculus changes then we will make sure we are onto that so that we can make the right decisions at the right times."

Listen to the full interview between Rear Admiral James Gilmour, Commander of the Joint Forces and Tova above.

You can also download the full interview on the Tova podcast, and listen on the go. Check it out on the rova app or wherever you get your podcasts.