WELLINGTON, New Zealand — New Zealand is stepping up its assistance to Ukraine by sending a C-130 aircraft to Europe to transport equipment and supplies, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said April 11.

“Over the next two months, our C-130 will join a chain of military aircraft from partner nations, traveling throughout Europe carrying much-needed equipment and supplies to key distribution centers,” Ardern said. “This contribution is not one the government has taken lightly.”

Russian invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, an act Ardern and her defense minster have condemned.

“New Zealand may be a long way from Europe, but we know that such a blatant attack on a country’s sovereignty is a threat to all of us. That’s why we are doing our bit to support Ukraine,” Defence Minister Peeni Henare said April 12.

New Zealand’s support has included sanctions, the supply of helmets, vests and radio equipment, and now the deployment of a Royal New Zealand Air Force C-130H Hercules aircraft.

Parliament unanimously passed historic sanctions legislation in response to Russia’s invasion on March 9. The sanctions initially froze assets and implemented travel bans that prohibited Russian and Belarusian government and military aircraft and ships from entering New Zealand’s territory. Belarus has supported Russia in its war against Ukraine.

From April 25, measures will also include a 35% tariff imposed on Russian products, such as vodka and fertilizer.

New Zealand is also contributing an extra $9 million in support of Ukraine, including $5 million for weapons and ammunition bought by the United Kingdom.

About $2.8 million will go to commercial satellite access, giving near-real-time information to Ukrainian officials so they can respond to Russian battlefield movements. And $342,000 is to go toward efforts in the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court to support the case against Russia.

This takes New Zealand’s Ukraine contributions to a total of $20 million.

Defense analyst Gordon Crane noted that New Zealand signed a partnership agreement with NATO in 2012, and that the alliance regards the country as one of its “global partners.”

“I suspect people unfamiliar with New Zealand don’t appreciate the country’s close ties with the U.K. and Europe. The queen of Great Britain is also New Zealand’s queen, and until recently our armed forces relied upon British equipment, from Leander-class frigates, Andover and Strikemaster aircraft to Scorpion light tanks,” Crane told Defense News.

“New Zealand sent troops to support NATO in Kosovo and, more recently, in Afghanistan. Our support for Ukraine is no different. More than 70% of New Zealanders are from Europe; most are from the U.K.”

Nick Lee-Frampton is the New Zealand correspondent for Defense News.

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