As the last of the skeleton staff abandoned Australia’s embassy in the Ukraine, Prime Minister Scott Morrison warned the border standoff with Russia is reaching boiling point.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government has directed the departure of embassy staff to a temporary office in Lviv with the build-up of Russian troops on the border.
“The situation is deteriorating and is reaching a very dangerous stage,” Mr Morrison said on Sunday.
“I want to send a very clear message on behalf of Australia … that the autocratic, unilateral actions of Russia, to be threatening and bullying Ukraine, is something that is completely and utterly unacceptable.”
He also hit back at the Chinese government for criticising Australia for holding talks with the US, Japan and India under the Quad grouping, which the Prime Minister said was working together to promote peace and prosperity in the region.
“Yes, the Chinese government is happy to criticise Australia for engaging in such peaceful activities but yet remains chillingly silent on Russian troops amassing on the Ukrainian border,” Mr Morrison said.
Albanese to Putin: ‘Back off’
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said Russia should “back off”.
“The threats and intimidation that’s occurring to a sovereign state like the Ukraine are entirely inappropriate in 2022,” he told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.
“We respect Ukraine’s sovereignty, and that should be respected by all, including Russia.”
Senator Payne said the government continues to advise Australians to leave Ukraine immediately by commercial means.
“Security conditions could change at short notice. Russian military action in Ukraine will severely limit our ability to provide consular assistance to Australians,” she said.
“We remain in close contact with our Five Eyes (intelligence alliance) and other like-minded partners on the ground,” she said.
She said Australians in Ukraine seeking consular assistance should call the Australian Government 24 hour Consular Emergency Centre on 1300 555 135 or +61 2 6261 3305 outside Australia.