Global Insight: NZ soldier's death in Ukraine 'not in vain'

Dominic Abelen, the Kiwi soldier killed in Ukraine has not died in vain, Professor Robert Patman says.

‘‘His tragic death was not in vain. It is a symbol of the determination to thwart the ambitions of an authoritarian regime,’’ Prof Patman, a University of Otago a foreign affairs specialist, told the Otago Daily Times Global Insight today.

Dominic Abelen, from the Royal NZ Infantry Regiment's 2/1 Battalion. Photo: Facebook
Dominic Abelen, from the Royal NZ Infantry Regiment's 2/1 Battalion. Photo: Facebook
Corporal Abelen, who had been based at Burnham Military Camp in Canterbury but was on unpaid leave, is understood to have been killed while fighting in eastern Ukraine.

This week marks six months since Ukraine was invaded by Russia, ordered by President Vladimir Putin.

Global Insight asked Prof Patman whether Abelen had given his life for a country that ultimately would be defeated.

‘‘No, I don’t think so, neither militarily nor politically,’’ Prof Patman said.

‘‘We know that Great Powers can and do lose wars like this...

‘‘Ukraine is determined and has lots of advantages on its side. It’s fighting for it’s own territory... there are signs of real demoralisation within the Russian army... and in addition the Russian economy is coming under strain.’’

Watch full interview

The stakes are high, Prof Patman says.

‘‘We have to think what is at stake here... many countries stand to lose if Mr Putin succeeds in his brazen attempt to create a greater Russia at the expense of a neighbouring country, which is a democracy, like us, and also pursues a non-nuclear path.’’

Former soldier Aaron Wood has been reported saying Corporal Abelen was ‘‘highly regarded as a soldier and a man’’.

Wood estimated up to 100 New Zealand Defence Force personnel were in Ukraine at any one time, of which, several dozen would be fighting on the front lines.

Global Insight’s discussion with Prof Patman also addressed whether it was time for Nato to increase its involvement in the war.