Opinion

Rachel Smalley: New Zealand finally offers tangible support to Ukraine

So, we got there in the end. The Russian missiles have been raining down on Ukraine for almost seven weeks, and New Zealand has committed to sending some military equipment to Europe to support Ukraine, as well as funds for lethal aid to support them. 

The government has taken its time to respond and that is perhaps understandable, initially -- some of these conflicts are all over and done within a matter of days, and we were lead to believe that it was going to play out that day. It was certainly Russia's plan. 

However, this is going to be a very long conflict, I think. 

New Zealand is sending a C-130 Hercules and fifty defence personnel to Europe to assist Ukraine – they will help transport and distribute aid. And we've also got intelligence personnel in Germany and Britain, and we're providing NZ$7.5 million to assist with the purchase of weaponry. 

Sending money is a smart move. Wars and conflict can change on a knife-edge, and for a nation like Ukraine, cash is king. Money travels best in these sorts of environments, and by the time we get our javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine, Ukraine may well be in need of something different. Russian tanks may not be their biggest problem. 

Sending money probably sits with this government better too. The tangible act of loading weaponry onto a plane to fly to Europe won't sit well with Jacinda Ardern, and an electronic cash transfer probably rests a little easier on her shoulders. 

In any case, however, we got there, New Zealand is officially at the table, and that's a good thing. 

If covid has taught us anything, it's this - the world can turn on its head in a heartbeat.

And although one of our strengths is that New Zealand sits at the bottom of the world, minding our own business, surrounded by vast swathes of ocean -- that's also our weakness.

If something went awry in geo-politics, and we found ourselves under threat, we'd want to lean on our partners and allies to help. we'd have to. We're not equipped to defend ourselves. 

And so if we want to be viewed as a grown-up western nation, we have to act like one, and we have to play our part. Is our contribution going to change the course of the conflict? No. $7.5 million dollars, 50 personnel and a Hercules is a drop in the ocean. 

However, we are at the table. 

The government has made the decision to pull up a chair and sit in support of Ukraine. 

Well done, it was 100% the right call.