Scott Morrison advises Australians against traveling to Ukraine to fight Russian invasion

‘I would advise against this just for the safety of Australians that they wouldn’t travel to Ukraine,’ Mr Morrison told reporters.

“I can absolutely understand the strong feelings and motivations of people to go and do this.

“But I would say that at present the legality of such actions is uncertain under Australian law.”

Ukrainian civilians joined the underarmed Ukrainian army in a desperate attempt to stop the Russian offensive.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a statement on Sunday calling on citizens of the world to join these efforts.

“Anyone who wants to join the defense of Ukraine, Europe and the world can come and fight alongside Ukrainians against Russian war criminals.” he said.

Travel advice from Australia to Ukraine is currently “do not travel” due to security risks associated with the ongoing military operation.

Under Australian law, people cannot engage in hostile activities overseas unless serving in the armed forces of a foreign country.

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Foreign Secretary Marise Payne said Australians who fought with non-state armed groups on either side of the conflict could “commit a criminal offence”.

“Frankly, I would strongly encourage them to heed the travel advice, which is not to travel,” she said.

SBS News has been told that the Ukrainian Embassy in Canberra has received up to 20 calls in the past 24 hours from people interested in joining the fight overseas.

The Prime Minister said the concerns would be discussed further at a Tuesday meeting of the National Security Committee, made up of senior cabinet ministers.

Ukraine’s Health Ministry said on Sunday that 352 civilians, including 14 children, had been killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began.

It also said 1,684 people, including 116 children, were injured.

Australia has also changed its travel advice for Russia due to the security environment and the military conflict with Ukraine.

Labor Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Penny Wong also called on Australians not to travel to the conflict zone.

“I understand it’s a very difficult situation,” she told reporters.

“I understand that many Australian families are going through the kind of conflict that we have seen and it is very distressing.

“But I encourage people to follow government advice.”

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss expressed a different message on the prospect of the British joining the military effort.

She replied “absolutely” during a BBC interview on Sunday when asked if she would support people joining the fight against Russia.

“It’s something people can make their own decisions,” she told BBC One’s Sunday Morning show.

“The Ukrainian people are fighting for freedom and democracy, not just for Ukraine, but for all of Europe.

“Absolutely, if people want to support this fight, I would support them by doing it.”

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Australia announced a series of sweeping sanctions in response to the Russian invasion, along with its pledge to fund lethal and non-lethal military aid.

The government has so far pledged $4 million worth of medical supplies and non-lethal military equipment through NATO partners.

The national security committee will review the allocation of funds under the lethal aid on Tuesday.

“The situation remains terribly worrying but I am pleased that we have seen an increasingly reinforced response from Western democracies,” Mr Morrison said.

“It is absolutely essential that Russia renounce these unlawful acts of brutality, violence and brutal behavior against its neighbour.”

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