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08 March 2014

Australia considers sanctions for Russia to counter aggression against Ukraine

Here we go again with Tony Abbotts's 'Might is Right' rhetoric. It sounds a lot like John Howard to me.

The prime minister was asked on Friday whether Australia would follow the lead of the United States in imposing sanctions on some Russian people and travel restrictions.

We're talking to our friends and allies about what should be done to check this blatant aggression by Russia against a neighbour that had done it no harm
So we're talking to our friends and allies and we'll have more to say in the days ahead.

The US president, Barack Obama, and his European Union allies unveiled a co-ordinated set of sanctions on Thursday to punish Russia for occupying the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea, imposing visa restrictions on individuals and sharpening rhetoric in what has rapidly degenerated into the worst east-west crisis since the end of the cold war.

Australia's foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, is travelling to London to meet the British foreign secretary, William Hague.

Before the trip, Bishop said the international community had a collective view that Russia's actions in sending troops into the Crimea region were 'utterly unacceptable'.

I wouldn't want to speculate on president [Vladimir] Putin's ultimate motives, but what I can say is I see no justification at all for the increased Russian military presence in Ukraine or in Crimea, and I join with the international community in urging Russia to withdraw its troops, to de-escalate the situation and to respect Ukraine's sovereignty

she told the ABC on Thursday night.

Authorities in Crimea voted on Thursday to accelerate secession from Ukraine, backing a law that declared the territory to be part of the Russian federation. The proposal will be put to a local referendum on 16 March. The acting Ukrainian prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, argued the decision was illegitimate and the proposed referendum had no legal grounds.

Bishop said her discussions with Hague would include the Crimean vote.

As we know, Crimea was provided to Ukraine back in 1954. It's been an autonomous region since that time, but the justification for entering Ukraine or Crimea is just not there, Bishop said. It's not as if there was an inter-communal conflict, it's not as if there was any attempt to discriminate or attack the Russian majority in Crimea and Ukraine's sovereignty has been breached, she said. There's no justification for the military presence. Now whether or not the people of Crimea are able to go to a referendum that has a binding result remains to be seen.

Bishop announced on Wednesday that Ukrainian visitors to Australia whose visas were about to expire could apply for an extension as a result of the volatile situation at home.

The Australian government has urged Australians to reconsider their need to travel to Ukraine, and issued a blanket warning not to travel to Crimea.

Australia is being unwittingly, but politically willingly, dragged into another NeoCon-Nato-Eu squabble that has nothing to do with us. We are not a big player on the World stage, and for once we should remain neutral rather than blindly following the flawed imperialistic logic of the US and UK

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