Australia imposes sanctions on Russia in response to Ukraine crisis

Eight senior Russian security officials and the oil and gas sectors will be targeted in the first round of Australian sanctions, with the prime minister vowing to go after anyone “aiding and abetting” the invasion of Ukraine.

Scott Morrison met with the cabinet’s national security committee on Wednesday before declaring the Russian government was “behaving like thugs and bullies” and there “must be consequences for Russia’s actions”.

Morrison characterised the sanctions as only the first step of Australia’s response and indicated Australian security agencies were on alert for possible counter-actions by Russia such as espionage and cyber attacks.

The Russian president, Vladimir Putin, earlier this week recognised the independence of two Russian-controlled territories in east Ukraine and sent in what he called a “peacekeeping” mission.

Australia will begin by imposing travel bans and targeted financial sanctions on eight members of the Russian Federation’s security council – a body that is chaired by Putin and has 12 permanent members including the foreign minister Sergei Lavrov.

Morrison did not specify which eight members would be sanctioned, but said the body had provided Putin with policy advice and justification leading to Monday’s presidential decree that “fundamentally undermines Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Australia will also amend its existing sanctions regulations to cover the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk, prohibiting trade in sectors including transport, energy, telecommunications, oil, gas and mineral reserves.

The government says it will broaden the scope of people and entities that Australia can list for sanctions to include those of “strategic and economic significance to Russia”.

Australian individuals and entities will be banned from doing business with Rossiya Bank, Promsvyazbank, IS Bank, Genbank and the Black Sea Bank for Development and Reconstruction.

This is in addition to…

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