Sanction screws tightened against Moscow, Australia announces NATO collaboration

By Melissa Coade

April 8, 2022

Marise Payne
Foreign minister Marise Payne. (AAP Image/Lukas Coch)

New financial sanctions and travel bans to Australia will be made against 67 individuals for their role in ‘Russia’s unprovoked, unjust and illegal invasion of Ukraine’, as the foreign minister confirmed a new partnership with the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence.

The centre of excellence, based in Latvia, undertakes research, analysis and training, and develops technical expertise, for the strategic communications capabilities of NATO, NATO allies and NATO partners.

Foreign minister Marise Payne said an Australian official would be sent to Riga, Latvia, next month and plans were being considered about how Australia could become a longer-term partner of the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence.

Australia’s partnership with the multinational organisation will initially focus on addressing hybrid threats and efforts to counter misinformation.

“The importance of improving strategic communications has been underscored by Russia’s use of disinformation and propaganda during its illegal and unprovoked war against Ukraine,” Payne said in a statement. 

“I discussed these challenges today with the NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg.”

Payne said Australia’s partner status was an ‘enhanced opportunities’ one with NATO. The nature of the relationship involves work on interoperability, participation in some military training and exercise programs, and the exchange of mutual interest views. 

“[This highlights our] shared commitment to democracy, human rights, and the international rules-based order.  

 “We will offer the centre a clear-eyed view of the geostrategic dynamics in the Indo-Pacific and implications for NATO,” the foreign minister said, noting the engagement also demonstrated Australia’s strong bilateral relationship with Latvia. 

This week Australia also escalated its sanctions against Moscow following the evidence of war crimes committed by Russia in Bucha and other towns around Kyiv.

Australia condemns these atrocities in the strongest possible terms,” Payne said. 

“The Australian government is committed to imposing the highest costs on those who bear responsibility for Russia’s aggression in Ukraine or hold levers of power.

“The Australian government reiterates our strongest support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and for the people of Ukraine,” she said. 

Nearly 600 individuals and entities are now subject to Australian sanctions which have been imposed in relation to Russia’s illegal war. 

Russia’s deputy prime minister Dmitry Grigorenko, minister of economic development Maxim Reshetnikov, deputy chairman of the Russian State Duma, Aleksander Babakov, and other senior Russian government officials are among those subject to the new sanctions. 

“Those sanctioned include prominent Russian military official Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, who has been described as the ‘Butcher of Mariupol’, for attacks including the bombing of the theatre in which innocent civilians were sheltering in Mariupol,” Payne said on Thursday.

“In addition, we are also listing the Kremlin-installed so-called ‘mayor’ of Melitopol, Ukrainian Galina Danilchenko, and a member of the Ukrainian parliament, Oleg Voloshyn, who has been working with Russia to undermine the Ukrainian government.”

Overnight the UN General Assembly voted to suspend Russia from its Human Rights Council with 93 votes in favour of the move. This is the third resolution against Vladimir Putin’s regime since Russia invaded Ukraine in February. 


READ MORE:

PM announces ‘severe costs to Russia’s aggression’ as Australia joins allies in imposing sanctions

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