Anthony Albanese says he is seeking national security advice on a possible visit to Ukraine during an upcoming visit to Europe.

The prime minister had been invited by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy to visit the war-torn country following the NATO summit in Spain, where Russia’s invasion will be on the agenda.

Mr Albanese will fly to the summit on Sunday, but has not indicated whether he will visit Ukraine.

Invest in the journalism that makes a difference.

EOFY Sale. A year for just $99.

SAVE 50%

“We’re getting national security advice on that,” Mr Albanese told the ABC’s 7.30 program on Thursday.

“We don’t want a circumstance whereby there’s risk to Australian personnel by undertaking such a visit, but we’ll take that advice and we’ll act accordingly.”

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton has urged the prime minister to give the proposal serious consideration.

“We’ve formed a special bond with Ukraine. President Zelenskiy is one of the century’s great heroes, and he’s provided inspiration not only to his people but to the rest of the world as well,” Mr Dutton said.

“I hope that we can visit in due course and if the prime minister is able to visit, if that’s the security advice he’s received, that it’s safe for him and for his delegation to visit, then I think it’s entirely appropriate that he would.”

Mr Albanese will join the NATO summit along with leaders from South Korea, Japan and New Zealand.

Afterwards the prime minister will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.

Mr Albanese said the meeting would be a reset in the relationship between the two countries following Australia’s decision to scrap a French submarine contract in favour of nuclear vessels as part of the AUKUS security pact.

“It is important that reset occur, France of course is central to power in Europe, but it’s also a key power in the Pacific in our own region as well,” he told 7.30.

Australia recently agreed to pay French company Naval Group $830 million in a settlement over the scrapped submarine deal.

Mr Dutton welcomed the prime minister’s trip to France, calling it “a good move”.

But while he understands the French anger over the cancellation of the contract, Mr Dutton says he wouldn’t apologise for putting Australia’s national security first.

“The previous government made a decision that was in our national security interests, on all of the advice that we had,” he said.

“The submarine that the French provided wasn’t going to provide the security and the defences that we needed. 

“So I don’t make any apology for the decision we made to go with the nuclear subs under the AUKUS deal because it will be the underpinning of security in our country for the next four or five decades.”

Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles said it was important to get the relationship with France back on track, with it being “one of our nearest neighbours, they’re a Pacific country in terms of their Pacific territories”.

Save this EOFY while you make a difference

Australia has spoken. We want more from the people in power and deserve a media that keeps them on their toes. And thank you, because it’s been made abundantly clear that at Crikey we’re on the right track.

We’ve pushed our journalism as far as we could go. And that’s only been possible with reader support. Thank you. And if you haven’t yet subscribed, this is your time to join tens of thousands of Crikey members to take the plunge.

Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief
SAVE 50%