PM announces suite of sanctions as Australia punishes Russia

Scott Morrison has announced targeted travel bans and a suite of financial sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which he has labelled “unjustified, unwarranted, unprovoked and unacceptable”.

The Prime Minister convened an emergency meeting of cabinet’s national security committee on Wednesday to discuss the next steps as the crisis in Ukraine ramps up.

In lock-step with the United States and the United Kingdom, Australia will place sanctions on five Russian banks named by the United States earlier – Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank.

In addition, a number of financial sanctions will be placed on the transport, energy, telecommunications, oil, gas and mineral reserves industries.

Sanctions have been placed on eight individuals, with the Prime Minister warning that could be expanded.

Acknowledging that Australia does not have a significantly close trading relationship with Russia, Mr Morrison said the sanctions would begin “immediately” and would get “stronger and stronger” down the line.

“And we will be standing up to Russia, along with all of our partners and all those who believe that it is totally unacceptable that Russia would invade its neighbour,” Mr Morrison said.

“These sanctions will significantly expand the scope of persons, and I stress, entities that Australia can list for targeted financial sanctions and travel bans.

“It’s included to capture persons and entities of what is termed strategic and economic significance to Russia.”

Labor leader Anthony Albanese said the sanctions were “appropriate” after finishing a national security briefing on Tuesday afternoon.

“What we see with the actions of Russia in militarily intervening across the border into Ukraine isn’t the actions of peacekeepers, it’s the actions of peace breakers,” he said.

“What we see with ongoing intimidation against the people of Ukraine is aggressive Russian action which undermines security in the region, and indeed the world and that’s why it’s appropriate that Australia has supported sanctions.

“It is absolutely vital that all nations which are democratic and which value the importance of a national sovereignty being respected, take action in support of the people of Ukraine at this time, so Labor supports the announcement that’s been made by the government.”

Australia‘s sanction announcement comes a day after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into two rebel regions in eastern Ukraine on a “peacekeeping mission”.

Overnight, United States President Joe Biden has described the move as an “invasion” and on Tuesday night local time vowed to impose tough sanctions.

Mr Morrison said his government would work with Australia’s partners to identify additional individuals and industries that would be subjected to sanctions.

“Moscow’s decision fundamentally undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and it has no validity under international law. (We) continue to co-ordinate closely with the United States, UK and European Union and other governments to ensure there are severe costs to Russia’s aggression,” he said.

Earlier, Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said Australia would use “whatever tools we have available” to impose tough sanctions and would consider expelling Russia’s top diplomat in Canberra.

“Dealing with diplomats in that way, whether it is expulsions or recalls, is always an option,” Senator Payne said.

“Focus at the moment though is on targeted sanctions that will have an impact on those responsible. So while there are other options and other tools in the toolkit, such as how we deal with diplomats, that’s a matter I’ll turn my mind to at an appropriate time.”

Mr Morrison said the Russian ambassador would be called in for a meeting with the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade later on Wednesday.

Calling Russia a “thug and bully”, he said Australia and the West would stand up for liberal democracy.

“We are now living in a world where authoritarian autocracies are seeking to have their way, and the only defence against that is those countries that favour world order, that favour freedom,” he said.

“Liberal democracies have to stand together and so many other countries, even if they’re not liberal democracies, who do believe in those principles in the sovereignty of states … we need to stand together and Australia will always do that.”

Charge d’Affaires of Ukraine in Australia Volodymyr Shalkivskyi said on Wednesday morning Australia and its allies should target Russia’s “most sacred area” of its economy and impose sanctions on energy.

“The energy companies provide the most revenue for the Russian budget, money that the Kremlin uses to finance military campaigns around the world,” Mr Shalkivskyi said.

“We appreciate the already implemented sanctions against Russia and the strong political statements (of Australia).

“We need Australia to join its partners in applying additional sanctions against Russia.

“We hope the Australian government will find possible ways to provide additional non-military assistance.”

Mr Morrison added Australia would seek to offer humanitarian support for Ukrainians in terms of visas, through the “many streams” of the migration program, and that displaced persons would be put at the top of the pile.

“I would expect we would be able to provide support through many channels,” he said.


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