Ukraine invasion: Australia will not hesitate to increase sanctions on Russia  

Australia’s top federal minister has warned that if tensions over Russia’s military buildup near Ukraine’s border escalate, Australia will not hesitate to ratchet up sanctions. Australia’s Finance Minister, Simon Birmingham, said the government was in frequent contact with a number of partners, including European countries and the United States, as well as Ukraine directly, to offer “any assistance we can.”

According to multiple media sources, the United Kingdom is expected to impose tougher sanctions against Russia on Monday. Russia’s buildup of almost 100,000 troops at Ukraine’s border has alarmed Western countries, but perspectives disagree on whether Vladimir Putin plans to launch a full-scale military invasion.

The Russian president has imposed a variety of security requirements, including a pledge that Ukraine will never join NATO, which the United States has rejected. NATO, Russia claims, is to blame for the escalating tensions.

The Australian finance minister’s remark came after a Ukrainian ambassador in Australia accused Russia’s envoy of giving misleading and strange excuses for Russia’s army buildup, while Western countries warn Moscow against invading Ukraine.

To assist NATO countries in defending themselves, the United Kingdom has offered to send land, air, and sea forces to its northern and eastern frontiers. The US has also announced that it will send a small number of troops to eastern European and NATO countries in the near future.

Australia already has sanctions against Russian officials in place, which were first imposed in 2014 and then extended in 2015, according to Finance Minister Birmingham, and the government is eager to expand them. The steps are directed at Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cronies who publicly supported Russian forces in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea, according to the sanctions list.

The existing restrictions also target defence companies involved in the development of “Buk” surface-to-air missiles, which are suspected of being used by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in 2014. On Sunday, Birmingham told reporters in Adelaide that the punishments are being reviewed on a regular basis.

Australia has made it plain that if unrest erupted in the region, it would not deploy its military, but that it was in talks about what other assistance it could provide, according to Simon Birmingham. According to media reports, Putin requested that Russia “reduce its military buildup along the Ukrainian border, de-escalate tensions, and participate extensively in diplomatic engagement to avoid conflict.”

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