23 Feb 2022

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta calls in Russian Ambassador over Ukraine crisis

1:07 pm on 23 February 2022

Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta has called in the Russian Ambassador to hear New Zealand's strong opposition to escalating Russian aggression towards Ukraine.

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

"We repeat our call for Russia to act consistently with its international obligations, and return to diplomatic negotiations as a pathway to resolve this conflict," Mahuta said.

"We have consistently expressed our strong support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty, and international diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the crisis to find a peaceful solution.

"A military invasion is an act of aggression, and a violation of one of the most basic tenets of international law. New Zealand is ready to take further measures."

One of the worst security crises in Europe in decades is unfolding as Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered soldiers into Donetsk and Luhansk to "keep the peace." Washington has dismissed that as "nonsense".

Satellite imagery over the past 24 hours shows several new troop and equipment deployments in western Russia and more than 100 vehicles at a small airfield in southern Belarus, which borders Ukraine, according to US firm Maxar.

The New Zealand government says it's prepared to introduce travel bans, controlled export bans and diplomatic measures in the event of a full invasion of Ukraine.

These are in line with the government's partners and will send a clear message of unity against an act of Russian aggresion, the minister said.

Western nations on Tuesday punished Russia with new sanctions but many held off the strictest sanctions as they try to dissuade a larger Russian assault.

The United States, the European Union and Britain announced plans to target banks and elites while Germany halted a major gas pipeline project from Russia, which they say has amassed more than 150,000 troops near Ukraine's borders.

- RNZ / Reuters

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