Australia will immediately begin placing sanctions on Russian individuals in response to the country’s invasion of Ukraine, prime minister Scott Morrison says.
Australia is also amending the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations of 2011 to extend existing sanctions to the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.
The actions bring Australia into line with actions already taken by the US and the UK.
“Our intention today and the decisions taken by the National Security Committee to ensure that we are in lockstep with the United States and the United Kingdom in the sanctions that they are imposing upon Russia and these other areas,” Morrison said at a press conference on Wednesday.
Initially the federal government will impose travel bans and targeted financial sanctions on members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.
“These sanctions will significantly expand the scope of persons and I stress entities that Australia can list for targeted financial sanctions and travel bans,” Morrison said.
“That gives us a broad coverage to ensure that we can target those who were particularly involved in these actions and who are aiding and abetting this invasion.”
The sanctions imposed on Donetsk and Luhansk will target transport energy, telecommunications, oil, gas and mineral reserves.
The federal government will also follow the US and UK in placing sanctions on several banks including the Russian State Development Bank.
“Our government continues to coordinate closely with the United States, UK and European Union and other governments to ensure there are severe costs to Russia’s aggression,” the prime minister said.
Morrison also said the Russian ambassador to Australia was due to meet with the secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade on Wednesday.
Asked whether diplomats would be asked to leave Australia, Morrison said Australia and other countries had not taken those steps.
“I’ve discussed this with other leaders and they haven’t taken those decisions as yet. But we will see where this proceeds,” he said.
He said ASIO would be keeping “a very close watch on any espionage-type activities that could be occurring”.
Morrison said the sanctions for Russia would “just keep stepping up”.
“We have no quarrel with the people of Russia,” he said.
“This is the actions of a Russian government, an autocratic, authoritarian government, that’s forgotten what democracy is and what liberal democracy is, in undertaking these actions of bullying and threats.
“In concert with the United States, Canada, United Kingdom, and many other countries, European Union, we will be adding names to the list. I can tell you, we’ll be ratcheting up further to potentially other areas of economic activity.”