‘Trust’ Australia will act on Russia



The Lithuanian foreign minister says he has full trust in Australia to take action against Russia in the event of conflict along the Ukrainian border.

Gabrielius Landsbergis said any action against Russia would need to be the strongest action yet from Western nations with any incursion being its third such act of aggression following Georgia in 2008 and Crimea in 2014.

“We have all the trust in Australia,” he told reporters in Canberra on Wednesday.

“Recent events show that all the like-minded countries have a similar reaction towards what’s happening on the Ukrainian border.”

Mr Landsbergis is in Australia for the establishment of his country’s embassy, signalling the country’s growing footprint in the Indo-Pacific region.

Foreign Minister Marise Payne says Australia continues to have sanctions in place against Russia following its annexation of Crimea, urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to de-escalate the situation.

But Senator Payne would not be drawn on what red lines needed to be crossed before any sanctions would be put in place.

“I’m not going to speculate on what red lines are — I would prefer to deal in the reality of events and I hope that they are not right,” she said alongside her Lithuanian counterpart.

“I hope that the diplomatic efforts which are being made by a number of leaders, in engaging with President Putin and the Russian administration, are able to persuade Russia that this is not a step that they should take.”

Senator Payne defended the government’s handling of the Myanmar coup over a year ago – where sanctions are yet to be laid against any member of the junta – when asked whether this reflects on Australia’s willingness to act.

“Conflating circumstances in Myanmar with the discussion we’re having in Ukraine and Russia is not comparing like with like,” she said.

“Australia has been very clear that we keep our sanctions policy in relation to Myanmar under review. We have focused very closely with ASEAN on an ASEAN-led response to the regime in Myanmar.”

Senator Payne is due to meet with foreign ministers from the United States, India and Japan in Melbourne on Friday, with tensions in Ukraine and the Indo-Pacific set to dominate discussions.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken will touch down in Melbourne on Wednesday night ahead of the meetings.

Senator Payne said the situation in Ukraine was deeply concerning and reiterated support of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

She also endorsed a unified European and NATO response.

The foreign minister said travel advice was being regularly updated for Australians living in the country, with an estimated 1400 Australian citizens living in Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron met with Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in a significant diplomatic move aimed at de-escalating tensions in Eastern Europe.

Mr Macron was the first leader of a major western power to meet with Mr Putin since Russia massed troops on the Ukrainian border.

Mr Putin said he wouldn’t escalate the situation, while the US has warned an invasion was imminent.

Senator Payne said the “no-limits friendship” sealed between the Russian and Chinese presidents was at odds with Australia and its Quad partners.

“We do see daily examples of coercion from authoritarian states that, as a strong liberal democracy, Australia is not prepared to tolerate or condone,” she told the ABC.


We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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