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Monday, 1 September 2014
Page: 9151


Mrs GRIGGS (Solomon) (14:19): My question is to the Prime Minister. Will the Prime Minister please update the House on the most recent developments in Ukraine and the response of the Australian government?

Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:20): I do thank the member for Solomon for her question. It is a very important subject and it rightly concerns members on both sides of the House. For months Russia has been running a proxy campaign to destabilise Ukraine in clear breach and defiance of international law. As this House well knows, in July, Russian backed rebels shot down flight MH17 using Russian supplied weapons, thus murdering 38 Australians. This was so much worse than a tragedy; it was an atrocity.

Now Russia is deliberately and openly violating Ukrainian sovereignty. NATO says that at least 1,000 Russian soldiers are operating openly inside Ukraine. NATO has released imagery showing combat forces, including heavy weapons and armoured vehicles, in operation inside Ukraine. So far, at least 2,500 people have lost their lives in this conflict. Let us be clear about what is happening: Russia started it and Russia must take responsibility for this loss of life. Russia quite brazenly is trying to break eastern Ukraine away from Ukraine, into a separate country. If Russian troops remain in Ukraine and if Russia persists in its attempts to break up a neighbouring country that has done it no harm, Russia risks becoming an international pariah.

I inform the House that Australia will lift its sanctions against Russia to the level of the European Union's. There will be no new arms exports; there will be no new access by Russian state-owned banks to the Australian capital market; there will be no new exports for use in the oil and gas industry; there will be no new trade or investment in the Crimea; and there will be further targeted financial sanctions and travel bans against specific individuals. I further advise that the ministers for Foreign Affairs and Defence will be at the NATO summit later this week for consultation with our friends and allies. I want to make it absolutely clear that the bullying of small nations by big ones and assertions that might is right should have no place in our world.