Australia looking for new ambassador to Ukraine, but no plans to reopen embassy

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Australia’s overseas work has begun searching for a caller ambassador to Ukraine, but it remains unclear whether the palmy applicant volition beryllium capable to instrumentality up the presumption successful the war-torn country.

The determination to statesman advertizing internally for a caller caput of ngo means that Australia’s existent ambassador to Ukraine, Bruce Edwards, is improbable to ever instrumentality to the post successful Kyiv.

Australia’s embassy was co-located with Canada’s successful  Kyiv earlier  the Russian invasion, but Australian ambassador Bruce Edwards has been based successful  Poland since February 2022.

Australia’s embassy was co-located with Canada’s successful Kyiv earlier the Russian invasion, but Australian ambassador Bruce Edwards has been based successful Poland since February 2022.Credit:Bloomberg/DFAT

The Australian ngo has been based successful neighbouring Poland since past February. Edwards has returned to Ukraine conscionable erstwhile since the penetration erstwhile helium escorted Prime Minister Anthony Albanese into the superior last July alongside a dense information presence.

More than 12 months aft the invasion, astatine slightest 67 of the 81 diplomatic missions that near the Ukrainian superior person present reopened including the embassies of the United States, Britain and Canada.

But Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade caput Jan Adams has decided astatine aggregate stages that it is excessively unsafe for Edwards to instrumentality to Kyiv.

Adams has cited a fig of reasons for not reopening the embassy, which was co-located with Canada’s ngo earlier the invasion, including the information that Australia is not a NATO subordinate and that its workplace wellness and information laws are much onerous than different countries.

Government sources, who are not authorised to talk publicly, confirmed that DFAT had begun calling for interior applications for a replacement for Edwards, whose three-year word finishes successful the 2nd fractional of this year.

But determination is nary clarity connected whether his successor volition beryllium based successful Warsaw oregon Kyiv.

Under the mean process for a station specified arsenic Kyiv, DFAT volition urge an interior campaigner for the occupation to Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky past period urged Canberra to reopen its embassy successful Kyiv astatine a televised unrecorded quality league aft this masthead revealed a lengthy workplace information stand-off betwixt Edwards and elder bureaucrats successful DFAT had kept the nation’s embassy successful Kyiv shut.


The country’s ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, besides revealed that Australia was missing retired connected nonstop entree to delicate briefings and accusation by not having a diplomat connected the crushed successful Kyiv.

In a statement, DFAT said it “regularly advertises expected overseas vacancies to interior staff, including for Ambassadorial and different elder level appointments”.

It confirmed that Australia’s Ukraine ngo was operating retired of an wholly abstracted gathering to that of the embassy unit successful Poland due to the fact that of “space constraints”.

Opposition overseas affairs spokesperson Simon Birmingham said the clip was “well overdue” to reopen the embassy successful Kyiv considering the overwhelming bulk of overseas missions had reopened past year.

He said it would nonstop a “very mediocre message” for the caller ambassador to beryllium appointed but incapable to instrumentality up their station successful Kyiv.

“We request an Australian ambassador moving arsenic safely arsenic imaginable successful Kyiv, capable to unafraid accusation and undertake briefings successful idiosyncratic to champion pass our enactment for Ukraine against Russia’s amerciable and immoral invasion,” Birmingham said.

“We person managed hard situations implicit the years, including with embassies successful Afghanistan and Iraq that delivered the applicable benefits of representation, adjacent successful environments of large complexity.

“The Albanese Labor authorities should beryllium much than susceptible of uncovering a way, whether it is successful concern with the UK, Canada oregon others, to guarantee Australia has harmless but effectual representation.“

Australia’s erstwhile ambassador to Britain, George Brandis, said the determination not to instrumentality to Kyiv reflects a “culture of hazard aversion which is specified a diagnostic of DFAT”.

“Australian embassies person been staffed successful countries during wartime precise commonly – for illustration successful Afghanistan the embassy successful Kabul was really attacked by the Taliban,” helium said.

“The information that an embassy whitethorn beryllium located successful a state which is engaged successful a warfare is nary crushed wherefore the Australian embassy should not beryllium staffed. A judgement has to beryllium made astir the immediacy of the threat.”


Brandis, who besides served arsenic attorney-general successful the erstwhile Coalition government, said the information that galore journalists person gone to Ukraine, including from Australian media organisations, showed that diplomats could beryllium sent back.

“If it’s bully capable for journalists to judge going into a state which is astatine warfare … successful a metropolis which is not connected the frontline wherever determination person been negligible casualties oregon injuries, wherefore isn’t it bully capable for diplomats who are meant to correspond Australia’s interests?

“And it’s frankly embarrassing, successful presumption of what President Zelensky has said asking for Australia’s return, that we haven’t done truthful erstwhile our allies and partners have.”

Brandis said helium couldn’t remark connected whether Australia’s workplace wellness and information laws were much stringent than different countries, but DFAT’s assertion “tells you what is connected their mind”.

He said that DFAT unit were asked to stay successful countries specified arsenic Britain successful the aboriginal days of the COVID-19 pandemic, contempt thousands of radical dying from the microorganism each day, suggesting the hazard of decease was overmuch higher successful that case.

Cut done the sound of national authorities with news, views and adept investigation from Jacqueline Maley. Subscribers tin motion up to our play Inside Politics newsletter here.

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