The New Zealand government on Monday announced an initial $2 million humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
“New Zealand stands by the people of Ukraine impacted by Russia’s unprovoked invasion,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said in a statement.
“It is deeply disturbing to hear reports of the growing numbers of deaths and injuries from this conflict. The harrowing and horrific images of displaced, or suffering civilians, in Ukraine speak volumes of this unfolding tragedy, and underlines the consequences of Russia’s unprovoked aggression,” Mahuta added.
She called on Russia to stop its military operation in Ukraine and withdraw its troops to “avoid a catastrophic and pointless loss of innocent life.”
“These are early days and we will continue to monitor events closely as the scale of the conflict, and the resulting humanitarian crisis, becomes clearer. We know the consequences of Russia’s actions will be significant, and tragically many of these will fall on innocent civilians,” the top New Zealand diplomat said.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a “special military operation” in Ukraine last Thursday, days after recognizing two separatist-held enclaves in eastern Ukraine. He claimed that Moscow had no plan to occupy its neighbor but wanted to “demilitarize” and “denazify” Ukraine.
In response, Western powers have imposed financial sanctions on Moscow, and the EU has decided to fund arms supplies to Ukraine, close its airspace to Russian airlines and ban Russian state media.
At least 368,000 Ukrainians have fled the country since the beginning of the attack, according to the UN Refugee Agency.