We recently passed 500 days since the beginning of Russia’s brutal, illegal and immoral invasion of Ukraine.

World leaders marked the grim anniversary with statements of support and, in many cases, further commitments to the materials and training needed to help Ukraine in its battle. For the people of Ukraine, this milestone is obviously one of great grief, but should also be one of great pride.

For 500 days the people of Ukraine, with courage and heroism, have defended their sovereignty to protect homes, people, culture, their nation.

For 500 days Russia’s brutal actions have caused immense grief, displacing millions of Ukrainians from their homes, loss of life and injuries amongst the most innocent. Many Russians too have suffered due to President Putin’s outrageous act.

14 months ago, when Russia unleashed its brutal assault it sent rippling effects across the globe that would be folly to ignore.

As allies, we are helping to defend much more than Ukraine – though that in itself is sufficient motivation for significant support from Australia and like-minded partners.

We are defending international laws and principles of particular importance to smaller or mid-size nations. Ukraine is a test case for the willingness of countries in the 2020s to stand up for the rights of smaller nations against their larger neighbours.

International rules and norms require respect for the sovereignty of nations, including recognised borders. International treaties go further in defining acceptable behaviour to respect basic human rights, even in war. These are agreements that Russia is in flagrant violation of.

As a small to mid-size nation, in a region of similarly positioned nations, respect for sovereignty and international rules is critical to Australia and so many of our friends across the Indo-Pacific. It is in nobody’s interests for Russia and its very few friends to believe that fatigue is setting in amongst Ukraine’s allies. We need to demonstrate strongly and constantly that we are serious about defending the rules and laws that protect each of us, just as they are intended to protect Ukraine.

Labor’s latest package of Australian support to Ukraine, described by military experts as “a disgrace”, underwhelming”, and “not what Ukraine asked for”, only reinforced the message that the Prime Minister risks appearing half-hearted in his government’s commitment to Ukraine.

Under Labor Australia slipped from being the largest non-NATO contributor to Ukraine. And contrary to Prime Minister Albanese’s claims, we are not the largest non-NATO contributor ‘aside from Sweden’. We are not even the largest contributor from our own region, with Japan contributing over five times the support of Australia.

The Australian support package announced last month falls a long way short of Ukraine’s requests of Australia or those of our international partners. Ukraine’s requests included more Bushmasters, modern Hawkeis, Abrams tanks and demining equipment.

Instead, a ramshackle package claimed to be worth $110 million has been offered. But it just doesn’t stack up under scrutiny. The value placed on the vehicles offered, many dating from the Vietnam war era, only adds up if it’s based on replacement value. However, defence aren’t being funded to replenish these offerings, so it’s little wonder they’re only recommending older equipment.

While of course welcome, as predicted by the Opposition, the Prime Minister waited for a photo opportunity overseas to announce the deployment of an E-7A Wedgetail and the delivery of an additional 30 Bushmasters. Capabilities that could arguably have made a greater difference had they been deployed sooner.

Equally, Labor’s humanitarian commitment to Ukraine, of $10 million, is a long way short of the $65 million provided in initial Australian support from the Coalition Government in the immediate aftermath of Russia’s brutal assault. This imbalance makes no sense relative to the huge loss of life, services and infrastructure that has ensued due to Russia’s horrific attacks over the 14 months since the change of government in Australia.

We cannot overstate the significance of this 500 day milestone. The people of Ukraine have demonstrated an immeasurable strength beyond what many of us could comprehend. Their bravery should only be met with unwavering, continuing support including through the delivery of the military and humanitarian support Ukraine has asked for and so desperately needs.