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Albo heads for 'absolutely critical' talks amid fears about China, Russia's closeness


Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is concerned about the “closeness” between China and Russia and the implications for world security as he prepares to attend a summit of global leaders.

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Albanese will arrive in Madrid on Monday afternoon local time for an “absolutely critical” NATO Summit, which will discuss supporting Ukraine against Russia following its invasion.

The prime minister will be joined by his counterparts from New Zealand, South Korea and Japan under the “four Asia-Pacific partners” for the first time at the biggest NATO summit ever held.

Speaking on the tarmac in Sydney on Sunday before boarding his plane for Europe, Albanese raised the Russia-China relationship, saying their “arrangements and closeness that has occurred in recent times means that it’s also very important for our region”.

“We live in an uncertain world,” he said.

“The Russian invasion of Ukraine has upset the norms that we regarded, that the rule of law would be maintained, that sovereign nations’ borders would be respected and that we wouldn’t see the sort of brutal invasion that we’ve seen from Russia, in Ukraine.”

Albanese said it was vital the international community stood with Ukraine, while its people were doing the “democratic world an enormous service”.

The prime minister will hold one-on-one meetings with UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden during the summit.

Albanese also said he was still taking “security advice” on whether it was safe to visit Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy in the capital, Kyiv.

“We want to make sure that it is safe to do so and that we’re not placing Australian service personnel at risk by undertaking such a journey,” he said.

“It certainly is appreciated … that President Zelenskiy has made this invitation to Australia, and we regard it as a good thing if it’s able to be undertaken.”

Australia has contributed more than $285 million in military aid, including Bushmaster vehicles and armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine.

Albanese will visit Paris later in the week at the invitation of French President Emmanuel Macron to heal the rift between the two countries after submarines deal was dumped by the former Australian government.

Australia’s current Collins-class submarines were going to be replaced by another conventional fleet to be built by French company Naval Group in South Australia.

But the $90 billion defence contract was scrapped last year after the former Morrison government decided to instead pursue nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS partnership.

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