23 Feb 2022

National Party pushes for legislation to sanction Russia over Ukraine actions

6:41 am on 23 February 2022

The National Party wants a law change that will enable New Zealand to place sanctions on Russia outside of the United Nations' (UN) process.

National Party MP Gerry Brownlee

National Party foreign affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says New Zealand needs to have autonomous sanctions in its tool kit. Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

Yesterday, Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognised two Russian-backed separatist-controlled regions in Ukraine and has ordered "peace-keepers" to the region.

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the recognition further undermined Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and eroded efforts towards finding a resolution.

It was also a violation of international law.

The minister renewed the call for urgent diplomatic efforts to find a peaceful resolution.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said New Zealand would look to send a message through a travel ban.

New Zealand has no legal power to bring down its own sanctions, instead operating through the UN's approval.

However, National Party foreign affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee said Russia was a permanent member of the security council and would veto any sanctions against themselves.

New Zealand needed to have autonomous sanctions in its tool kit, Brownlee said.

"Diplomacy alone is not going to work here," he said.

"This sort of aggressive action needs to be met with very strong international sanctions that starts to tell Russia that there is a large amount of pain that they'll experience if they start behaving like this."

Travel bans were a "nonsense", he said.

Brownlee said the National Party would work with the government to pass through autonomous sanction legislation as soon as possible.

The United States has already signalled it will bring in further sanctions against Russia, after announcing it would "prohibit new investment, trade, and financing by US persons to, from, or in the so-called DNR and LNR regions of Ukraine," referring to the self-proclaimed Donetsk People's Republic and the Lugansk People's Republic.

The United Kingdom and European Union also said they were preparing to sign off on a package of sanctions against Russia.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said the government was working closely with Western allies "to ensure there are severe costs for Russia's aggression".

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