Russia-Ukraine war: New Zealand won't be providing Ukrainians with military equipment, Jacinda Ardern says

New Zealand won't be sending military equipment to Ukraine at this stage, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says, after the EU announced its intention to buy and deliver weapons to the nation facing the biggest assault in Europe since World War II.

Ardern said, during an interview with AM's Melissa Chan-Green on Monday, that the Government would continue to support Ukraine through humanitarian aid. 

She said the Government would remain in close contact with its Ukrainian counterparts.

"New Zealand has taken a very strong position on the invasion by Russian forces into Ukraine. Today, we'll be looking and making announcements on the first blush of humanitarian assistance that we'll be wanting to put into the region.

"At the moment, the focus is on financial resourcing because then you're able to get support up and running as quickly as possible."

New Zealand has imposed travel bans on Russians associated with the invasion, prohibited the export of all goods intended for use by the Russian military and security forces and suspended bilateral engagement until further notice.

Ardern said those measures as well as humanitarian aid were practical ways New Zealand could help.

She said the Government was seeking advice on whether it can put other restrictions on Russian investment into New Zealand.

A Ukrainian serviceman takes position at the military airbase Vasylkiv in the Kyiv region, Ukraine February 26, 2022.  REUTERS/Maksim Levin
Photo credit: Reuters

Australia Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Sunday his country would send weapons to Ukraine via NATO to support Ukraine. New Zealand wouldn't be doing that at this stage, Ardern said.

"Other nations who are tending to send military equipment often have military forces, which means they'll have more of that capacity in reserve than New Zealand necessarily would," Ardern told AM. "We are looking to support in other ways."

Russia overnight agreed to peace talks with Ukraine, with delegations from both sides meeting at the Belarusian border.

It came as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced the EU would take the unprecedented step of arming Ukraine while also closing its skies to all Russian aircraft.

"For the first time ever, the European Union will finance the purchase and delivery of weapons and other equipment to a country that is under attack," von der Leyen said. "This is a watershed moment.

"We continue to coordinate with partners around the globe and we remain in close contact with our Ukrainian friends… We welcome, with open arms, those Ukrainians who have to flee from [Russia President Vladimir] Putin's bombs and I'm proud of the warm welcome that Europeans have given them."

Speaking from Poland, where thousands of Ukrainians have fled, Newshub Europe correspondent Lisette Reymer said it was a staggering new reality for many families.

"This is just the beginning… already, up to 400,000 have crossed the [Ukraine] border - the majority of them have come here to Poland but others to Hungary, Romania and Slovakia as well," Reymer told AM.

She said the EU was expecting up to 5 million Ukrainian refugees.