The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations (AFUO) welcomes the decision by the National Capital Authority (NCA) to strip the lease held by the Russian Federation for a new embassy on a prime block in Yarralumla, and called for the site to be the new home for the Ukrainian embassy.
“The availability of this prime site presents an opportunity for other diplomatic missions, including the Embassy of Ukraine in Australia. When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Russian Federation took over Soviet embassies around the world, in effect stealing the property of other republics in the Soviet Union. This represents a great opportunity for Ukraine to reclaim its presence and build a new embassy home,” said Mr Stefan Romaniw OAM, AFUO Co-Chair.
“We will be commencing discussions with the Embassy of Ukraine in Australia and interested parties about how to make this a reality. Ukraine has found a great friend in Australia, and there is no doubt the relationship will continue to grow,” he added.
Media reports have also noted there were concerns about the potential for Russia’s new embassy to enhance its intelligence capabilities. Anonymous sources have said the Home Affairs department had blocked Russian contractors from entering Australia to work on the site due to unease they were related to Russian intelligence.
“Russia’s stated record in espionage, covert warfare and disinformation campaigns make it no surprise that there were suspicions about Russian plans for a new embassy,” said Mr Romaniw.
“As noted by others, it is also a bit rich for the Russian Embassy to be considering legal recourse against the NCA. Russia has shown wilful, blatant and criminal disregard for legal agreements and obligations in its brutal invasion of Ukraine. But now Russia is saying it’s an “aggrieved party” in legal proceedings. It almost beggars belief,” he added.
Cartoon credit: Johannes Leak, The Australian, 19 August 2022