Scott Morrison has warned Russia has to pay a heavy price for its invasion of the Ukraine and Australia will seek to provide what he described as ‘lethal aid’ through NATO.
The United States, Britain, Europe and Canada have blocked Russian access to the SWIFT international payment system as part of another round of sanctions, a move Treasurer Josh Frydneberg said would isolate it from the global financial system.
‘Russia must pay a heavy price,’ the prime minister told reporters after attending a service at the St Andrews Ukrainian Church in Lidcombe, NSW on Sunday where he spoke to the congregation.
We will continue to add to that price as we consider every single option that is in front of us. I’ve taken nothing off the table.’
He said Australia is already providing significant support in terms of non-lethal aid.
‘But I’ve just spoken with the defence minister and we’ll be seeking to provide whatever support we can for lethal aid through our NATO partners, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom,’ he said.
‘They are already providing support in these areas and we will be assisting them with what they are doing.’
Mr Morrison told the congregation in Lidcombe on Sunday Australia wouldn’t seek a ‘peace in Ukraine that is based on bending the knee to an autocrat and a thug’.
We seek a peace that is the sovereignty of Ukraine. That is what peace is for and that is what the world community demands.
Federal Labor was quick to support the blocking of Russia’s access to SWIFT.
That will bite and that is a good thing,’ Labor foreign affair spokeswoman Penny Wong told ABC’s Insiders program.
We do need to ensure that the cost of (Russian President) Putin’s actions bite on him, those around him and on Russia, and the Russian economy, and that will take co-ordination, that will take resolve, people continuing to hold the course.
Mr Frydenberg expects many countries will examine Russia’s participation in international forums, like the G20.
‘I can’t pre-empt what will be the outcome of those discussions but there will be countries that question Russia’s ability to participate in these international forums given what they have done in recent days to a country that posed no threat to themselves,’ he said.
Russia did sit with the G7 forum between 1997 and 2014, when it was known as the G8, before it was suspended following its annexation of Crimea.
Kyiv remains under Ukrainian control as Russian forces renew their assault, pounding the capital and other cities with artillery and cruise missiles.
Finance Minister Simon Birmingham said Australia is in discussions with United Nations agencies about the humanitarian response.
As people seek to make refugee claims, then of course we will work as part of that international response to assist and no doubt to resettle individuals, he told Sky News’ Sunday Agenda program.
Right now we have been giving priority processing to any visa applications coming from the Ukraine and support those individuals to be able to get out and get to Australia as quickly as possible.
The Australian government believes there is a clear difference between China and India’s response to the Russian invasion.
Both countries abstained from this weekend’s UN Security Council resolution deploring Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.
Senator Birmingham wanted to see all countries support the the motion and for them to take stronger language and action.
But he said Australia’s QUAD partner India has been unequivocal in calling for a cessation of violence.
Prime Minister Modi has had discussions directly with the Ukrainian president, Senator Birmingham told Sunday Agenda.
Now in the case of China, what we have seen is excuses made and justifications acknowledged and indeed financial or economic support even enabled. Now those things are completely unacceptable.
Senator Wong said China’s position is inconsistent, having for decades as part of their foreign policy respected sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The position they are currently articulating in relation to Ukraine is inconsistent with China’s stated foreign policy position over decades, she said.