15 September 2022

Ukraine's top diplomat to visit Wagga

| Chris Roe
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man at podium

Ukraine’s Charge d’Affaires in Australia, Volodymyr Shalkivskyi. Photo: National Press Club of Australia.

With the plight of war-torn Ukraine continuing to feature in the news cycle, the Rotary Club of Wagga Wagga has invited the country’s top diplomat in Australia, Volodymir Shalkiskyi, to visit the city.

“I was in Canberra back in June at a Rotary function where Mr Shalkiskyi was speaking and I asked him if he would come to Wagga and address my Rotary Club,” said veteran Rotarian Gary Roberts who is organising the visit.

“Watching the current events all over the news every night we see some devastation or some victory, so we thought people would be interested to get an update and hear first-hand how things are progressing and what the officials from Ukraine think might be the outcome.”

Mr Shalkiskyi is the Second Secretary of the Embassy of Ukraine in Australia and the Charge d’Affaires.

Earlier this year he told the National Press Club that Russia faces a determined population.

“Mr Putin truly believed that people will greet with flowers, but the fact is that people are greeting with Molotov cocktails,” he said.

He also described how his elderly mother had asked him for tips on bomb making after noting that her balcony was a good position from which to throw a Molotov cocktail at passing Russian forces.

“You can win a war against a foreign army,” Mr Shalkiskyi said.

“But you can not win the war against free people who are determined to fight.”

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Mr Shalkiskyi will arrive in Wagga on Thursday (15 September) and tour the Riverina Intermodal Freight and Logistics (RiFL) Hub at Bomen before visiting Wagga business FlipScreen whose innovative machines would be an asset in both the clearing of rubble and landmines.

The delegation will then head to the Pro Patria veterans care centre.

“Obviously there’s going to be lots of veterans and other people in Ukraine who will need the sort of care that they deliver there,” explained Mr Roberts.

“It’s run by veterans for veterans who are suffering mostly with PTSD and they’re planning to have full medical services and psychological services and counselling running there in the near future.”

The Rotary event will be held at the Country Club in the evening, but with limited tickets available, it will also be live-streamed on the Rotary Club’s Facebook page from around 7:20 pm.

“He’ll address the meeting and then there’ll be a question time,” Mr Roberts said.

“Friday morning at 10 there’s a civic welcome and then we take him over to the peace memorial on Ivan Jack Drive before he heads back to Canberra.”

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Wagga’s Rotary Peace Monument is a unique fixture in the city, erected to commemorate the advancement of international understanding, goodwill and peace.

After 42 years with Rotary, Mr Roberts said Wagga’s five local clubs are going well and he’s proud of the work they continue to do in the community.

“All our members are very active with lots of community service work around town,” he said after a busy week preparing for the Wagga Show.

“Most of that goes pretty much unnoticed, but we’re always there doing the things that need doing.”

To enquire about tickets to Thursday’s event or to join the live stream, head to the Rotary Club of Wagga Wagga’s Facebook page.

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