Australia will impose a fresh round of sanctions against Russia, targeting people who disseminate propaganda and disinformation about the invasion of Ukraine.
Ten people with a strategic interest in Russia will be sanctioned for encouraging hostility towards Ukraine and driving false claims that a genocide was taking place against ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said other financial sanctions will be imposed on Russia’s armed forces, as well as six senior military commanders responsible for attacks on Ukraine.
Senator Payne said the invasion of Ukraine was also accompanied by a widespread disinformation campaign within Russia.
“Tragically for Russia, President Putin has shut down independent voices and locked everyday Russians into a world characterised by lies and disinformation,” she said.
“The addition of sanctions on those responsible for this insidious tactic recognises the powerful impact that disinformation and propaganda can have in conflict.”
The foreign minister said Australia was working alongside major social media companies to help remove propaganda from their platforms.
“The assertion that there is a genocidal action happening in Ukraine against Russia, that there is a ‘denazification’ required in Ukraine, is an obscene suggestion,” Senator Payne told Sky News.
“Putting a stop, with partners, to those who are perpetrating this disinformation, this propaganda, is something Australia can do.”
It comes as Australia was included among a list of so-called unfriendly nations by Russia, following widespread sanctions by western nations.
Australia is included in the list alongside the European Union, the UK, US, Canada, Japan, Singapore, New Zealand and South Korea.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the world, including Australia, was standing together against Russia.
“It’s a badge of honour, and I think if we have, as a world, a united front against Russia’s aggression, then I think that’s a good thing,” he told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
“It also makes us realistic about the threats within our own region, within the Indo-Pacific.”
Mr Dutton said President Vladimir Putin was still determined to see the resurrection of the Soviet Union.
“That is dangerous, for Ukraine clearly, but for many other countries that are nervous in Europe at the moment,” he said.
“We don’t want to see conflict and all of us are working day and night to make sure that peace is maintained within our part of the world and that Ukraine can return and rebuild.”
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