Defence Minister Peter Dutton warned there would be “bloody scenes” if Russia invaded Ukraine and installed a pro-Kremlin regime.
Speaking on Sky News earlier today, Mr Dutton called on the Russian president Vladimir Putin to address the concerns of the international community.
“At the moment we hope that the deterrence can mean that the Russians can step back and that they don’t continue on in what looks like a path to conflict with Ukraine because, as I say, tens of thousands of people will die,” Mr Dutton said. “There will be bloody scenes.”
He said it was unlikely Ukraine would reach out to Australia for direct military assistance, after Foreign Minister Marise Payne again ruled out military aid.
Mr Dutton said while the pandemic distracted much of the world from events in the region, no one wanted to see a repeat of the violence in 2014 when Russia invaded and subsequently annexed the Crimean Peninsula.
He said it is important that free nations stood their ground in the face of authoritarianism.
“It is important to call out dictators and people who have aggression as their first instinct. It’s unacceptable.
“This is a very, very serious situation and Russia needs to address the issues of the international community.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade last night issued a “do not travel” alert for Ukraine.
“Australians in Ukraine should leave now by commercial means, where safe to do so, noting that flight availability could change or be suspended at short notice,” DFAT said in a statement.
“Australians who decide to remain in Ukraine should review their personal security plans, be prepared to shelter in place if required [and] maintain heightened security awareness and register with DFAT.”