The majority of the Russian Federation’s banking assets – and all entities that handle Russia’s sovereign debt – are now covered by sanctions announced by the Australian government, foreign minister Marise Payne says.
The violent onslaught of Russian military forces across key cities in Ukraine continued over the weekend, with rockets and bombs fired against civilians via a Russian-led land, sea and air assault. An art school in Mariupol was targeted on Sunday. About 400 innocent civilians are believed to have been sheltering in the building.
On Friday, Australia named 11 new entities to be subject to sanctions as a result of Vladimir Putin’s military invasion of Ukraine. Another 41 oligarchs close to Putin were identified for travel bans and targeted financial sanctions.
In a statement, Payne said with sanctions imposed on the Central Bank of Russia and the latest banking entities more than 80% of all banking assets in Russia were restricted.
“The Australian government is deeply committed to imposing high costs on Russia,” Payne said.
“This includes by listing individuals of economic and strategic significance to Russia who have supported, and benefited from, the Putin regime.”
Sberbank, Gazprombank, VEB, VTB, Rosselkhozbank, Sovcombank, Novikombank, Alfa-Bank and Credit Bank of Moscow have also been added to Australia’s sanctions list.
Russia is targeting civilians, causing immense suffering. Today Australia commits a further $30m in emergency humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, focused on protecting women, children & the elderly & takes our total commitment today to $65m. @dfat https://t.co/9y4p15qLi9
— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) March 20, 2022
Two Russian billionaires with links to business interests in Australia, Oleg Deripaska and Viktor Vekselberg, will also face the fresh Australian sanctions.
Payne said added sanctions were part of a concerted international effort to tighten the screws and apply more pressure on Russian power-brokers as the devastation in Russia’s neighbouring nation of Ukraine continues.
The foreign minister commended local companies who have recently moved to cut ties with Russian business in protest of the ‘illegal and indefensible war’ in Ukraine.
“The Australian government reiterates our unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and for the people of Ukraine,” Payne said.
“We will continue to move with partners on coordinated sanctions, and to constrain funds for President Putin’s unlawful war.”
On Sunday, the prime minister Scott Morrison said the department of defence had developed a $21 million support package for Ukrainian Armed Forces, bumping Australia’s total military assistance to $91 million to date. Australia will also provide an extra $30 million in humanitarian assistance, bringing total funds committed to humanitarian aid to $65 million.
“To meet Ukrainian priority requests, this package will comprise additional material from Australian Defence Force stocks,” a joint statement from the pm and foreign minister said.
“The government will continue to identify opportunities to provide further military assistance where it is able to provide required capability to the Ukraine Armed Forces expeditiously.”
Australia has now imposed 476 sanctions on 443 individuals relating to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. An immediate ban on Australian exports of alumina and aluminium ores (including bauxite) to Russia was also declared at the weekend, with the intent of limiting Russian capacity to produce aluminium.
“Russia relies on Australia for nearly 20 per cent of its alumina needs,” the joint statement said.
“The foreign minister has imposed the export ban under Australia’s autonomous sanctions against Russia. The government will work closely with exporters and peak bodies that will be affected by the ban to find new and expand existing markets.”
The move is expected to hurt the Russian economy, which is being sanctioned by many in the international community, and Australia will also assist Ukraine keep its coal-fired power generators operating and supplying electricity to country’s power grid.
“Australia will support Ukraine’s energy security by donating at least 70,000 tonnes of thermal coal.
“This follows a request for assistance from the government of Ukraine, supported by the government of Poland, and discussions with other European partners.”