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Albo goes to NATO: Australia among four outside nations invited to summit on Ukraine

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Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand have been invited to attend a NATO summit for the first time as it meets to discuss Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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Prime Minister Anthony Albanese lauded the importance of working with NATO to protect and support Ukraine’s sovereignty.

He will join NATO heads in Spain next week as the treaty organisation works to counter Russian aggression, as well as energy security in light of an over-reliance on Russian gas among member states.

“That will be an important conference … because of what is happening in Ukraine,” he told reporters on Wednesday.

“It’s the first time the leaders of South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia have all been invited and we’ve all accepted the invitation to be NATO partners.

“Australia is the largest non-NATO contributor to the effort supporting the sovereignty of Ukraine and their struggle against the barbaric and illegal war being undertaken by Russia.”

Albanese has spoken to NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg ahead of the meeting as he prepares to welcome Asia-Pacific nations for the first time.

Lowy Institute executive director Michael Fullilove said he would encourage Mr Albanese to travel to Ukraine following the NATO summit, to underline Australia’s support.

“The prime minister visiting would add to that – I think it would continue the personal diplomacy that he’s kicked off so effectively,” he told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

Fullilove said Australia had a “huge stake” in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with the war paving the way for future conflicts.

“The invasion of Ukraine has been the greatest disruption of the international order since the Second World War,” he said.

“That has implications for us because we have enjoyed the benefits of that order.

“A Russian victory would make more invasions like this more common – it would be a big win for countries that challenge the international order.”

Japan is also pushing for a sideline meeting with Australia, New Zealand and South Korea to discuss regional security concerns amid China’s expanding influence and aggression, according to local media reports.

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