Scott Morrison denounces China for offering Russia trade ‘lifeline’

Australia has vowed to provide nonlethal military equipment and medical supplies to Ukraine, as the prime minister accused China of offering Russia a trade “lifeline” after Thursday’s invasion.

The Ukrainian government is pleading for international support and tougher sanctions as it reports at least 137 people have died so far in the fighting, while the US warns that Russia appears intent to “encircle and threaten” the capital Kyiv.

Scott Morrison said on Friday the Australian government was “extremely concerned at the terrible violence that we have seen inflicted on the people of Ukraine by Russia” in its “unwarranted, unprovoked” invasion.

“I want to confirm that we have been working with Nato to ensure that we can provide nonlethal military equipment and medical supplies to support the people of Ukraine,” the prime minister told reporters in Adelaide.

He said Australia was “a long way from Ukraine” and the most effective way to provide that support was “through that Nato channel”. He said he believed the 40,000 Australians of Ukrainian descent would welcome that announcement.

Morrison said he could not go into much detail about the support but “you can rest assured that we are working very closely with those partners and allies to support them in their time of need”.

He said the Australian government would continue to work with its close allies and partners to impose “a rolling wave of sanctions”, including on oligarchs whose economic weight was of strategic significance to Moscow.

The Australian sanctions would also be extended to cover “key Belarusian individuals and entities complicit in the aggression”.

Morrison said the coordinated action was intended to “demonstrate very forcefully that we are all working together to shut Russia out as a result of their violence and their unlawful actions”.

But Morrison said he was “particularly concerned” by the lack of a strong response from China. He cited a report that China…

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