Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said that his country is preparing stronger sanctions against the “bully” Russia, after Moscow imposed a year-long ban on agricultural products from U.S., Europe and Australia on Thursday.
Abbott, in a press conference in Sydney on Friday, asked Russia to respect Ukraine’s choice and warned that if Moscow crosses the border, it might be labeled as an international outcast. Russia has banned the import of meat, dairy and produce from U.S., Europe and Australia, in retaliation for the trade bans slapped against Moscow.
"I want to say very clearly that we are working towards stronger sanctions," Abbott reportedly said, according to ABC News."Now that our personnel have withdrawn from the site, now that our personnel are in the process of returning to The Netherlands after largely completing Operation Bring Them Home, certainly you will find increased sanctions by Australia," he added referring to a team assisting in the investigation of the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17.
"If there is any movement by his (Russian President Vladimir Putin) forces across the border, it won't be a humanitarian mission, it will be an invasion. It will be an invasion," Abbott said at a press conference Friday, according to ABC News, adding: "The way to avoid increased sanctions is for Russia to call off what appears to be in preparation for Russia, to respect the independence of Ukraine, to stop interfering in the affairs of Ukraine, to stop supporting separatists in Ukraine."
Australia exports nearly $400 million worth of agricultural products to Russia, according to ABC News, and the government will help support farmers affected by the Russia's sanctions, Abbott reportedly said.
“Russia has been a bully. Russia is a big country trying to bully a small country,” Abbott said, according to Sky News, an Australian news agency, adding: 'I say to President Putin, if he wants to be regarded as a world leader hold your forces back, stay behind the border and let the business of the Ukraine be sorted out by the Ukrainians.”
Australia's latest round of sanctions will follow the last set of sanctions imposed in March against certain Russian individuals for their involvement in Russia's takeover of Crimea. Australia expanded these sanctions in May, after Moscow-backed separatists continued to fight government forces in Ukraine, which has accused Russia of supplying arms and ammunition to the rebels.