Australia and Japan on Wednesday announced economic sanctions against Russia and two pro-Russian separatist regions in eastern Ukraine.
Australia imposed sanctions on Russian officials and financial institutions and banned trade with the Luhansk and Donetsk regions after Russia recognized them as independent nations on Monday.
“Under the first phase, we will impose a travel ban and targeted financial sanctions on the eight members of the Russian Security Council,” said Prime Minister Australia Scott Morrison and Secretary of State Marise Payne in a joint statement.
“The Council bears responsibility for the current phase of the invasion by providing policy advice and justification for President (Vladimir) Putin’s unilateral declaration recognizing the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic and the Luhansk People’s Republic,” they added.
Under the sanctions, Australian individuals and entities are prohibited from doing business with Rossiya Bank, Promsvyazbank, IS Bank, Genbank and the Black Sea Bank for Development and Reconstruction. The sanctions come in addition to restrictions on Australia’s investment in Russia’s state development bank VEB.
Canberra also sanctioned Donetsk and Luhansk, which prohibits trade with the region in the transport, energy, telecommunications, oil, gas and mineral sectors.
“We are working with our partners to identify additional individuals who will be subject to these sanctions,” the top Australian official said.
Amid rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the government also welcomed the actions of the US, UK and Canada against Moscow and praised Germany for suspending the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project.
Australian authorities are also giving Ukrainian nationals living in Australia a six-month extension on their visas if they expire on June 30.
At a news conference in Sydney, Morrison earlier criticized Russia’s latest actions as unjustified, unwarranted, unwarranted, unacceptable and akin to “thugs and bullies.”
“Russia is at peak readiness to complete a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and that is likely to happen within the next 24 hours. And there’s even been reports of shootings and stuff like that, which could indicate that it has started,” Morrison said.
“They (Russians) should be called thugs and bullies. And quite sadly and tragically, the violent power of those thugs and bullies will have an impact on the Ukrainian people.”
Morrison has not ruled out putting Putin on a sanctions list or expelling Russia’s ambassador in Canberra.
“That step hasn’t been taken yet. Other countries, and I’ve discussed this with other leaders, they haven’t made that decision yet. But we’ll see where it goes.”
Violation of international law
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida also announced a list of economic sanctions against Russia, along with Donetsk and Luhansk.
Tokyo suspended visas for officials from the two regions, froze their assets, and banned trade with Donetsk and Luhansk, Kyodo News Agency reported.
The Japanese PM condemned Russia’s recognition of the two territories as independent countries, calling the move a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as international law.
“We strongly urge Russia to return to efforts to break the deadlock through a diplomatic process,” Kishida was quoted as saying by the news agency.
He added that Japan would take more steps in coordination with the G7 countries.
Leaders of the G-7 countries, including the US, UK, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the European Union, are expected to hold a virtual meeting on Thursday to discuss the current situation of Ukraine.
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