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Australia sanctions Russian President Putin for attacking Ukraine – brackets him with Mugabe, Gaddafi and Assad

Russian President Vladimir Putin (File image courtesy: Twitter/@KremlinRussia_E)

Putting him into a very small group that includes Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, Australia today announced financial sanctions and travel ban on Russian President Vladimir Putin for his "egregious unjustified war" against Ukraine.

The Scott Morrison government said on Monday that it will also work with NATO and other partners to provide lethal as well as non-lethal military equipment, medical supplies, and financial assistance to support the people of Ukraine.

"The Australian government is deeply concerned at Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, which is a gross violation of international law and the United Nations Charter. We will continue to coordinate closely with our partners – including the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, NATO and the EU – to impose a high cost on Russia," said Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Marise Payne in a joint statement with Morrison, country's Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Defence Minister Peter Dutton.

Australia's targeted financial sanctions and travel bans came into effect from midnight. Besides Putin, they also earmark the remaining permanent members of Russia's Security Council, including Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, Defence Minister Sergey Shoigu, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin and Internal Affairs Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

"President Putin, Foreign Minister Lavrov and Defence Minister Shoigu are directly responsible for Russia's unprovoked and unlawful further invasion of Ukraine. It is exceedingly rare to designate a head of state, and reflects the depth of our concerns," the statement mentioned.  

While it is still working out details with partners on the contribution of lethal military equipment, Canberra, as an immediate measure, will contribute US$3 million to NATO's Trust Fund for Ukraine to support non-lethal military equipment and medical supplies. 

The country said that it will continue to work with allies and like-minded countries to impose further economic sanctions on Russia, building on the raft of travel bans and asset freezes implemented in recent days against Russia's most influential political and military actors.

"So far Australia has sanctioned more than 350 Russian individuals, including corrupt oligarchs, MPs, and military commanders who are facilitating Putin's illegal and violent ambitions. Moreover, we have sanctioned 13 Belarusian individuals and entities, including Belarusian Minister of Defence Viktor Khrenin, who has aided and abetted Putin's aggression by allowing Russia to launch attacks from Belarus," the statement added.

The Australian government said that it "strongly supports" the announcements made by the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States on further restrictive economic measures against key Russian banks, institutions and individuals.

These measures include removal of selected Russian banks from the SWIFT global payments messaging system; restrictive measures to prevent the Russian Central Bank from using its international reserves in a way that undermines sanctions; limiting so-called golden passports for wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government; and, a trans-Atlantic task force to identify and freeze the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies that exist within their jurisdictions.

Vowing its staunch support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Morrison government believes that these measures will impose severe costs on the Russian economy by disconnecting its key banks from the international financial system and disrupting Russian trade and investment flows.

"They will also paralyse Russia's foreign reserves and prevent Russian officials and elites from accessing key financial systems. While we expect that the SWIFT measures as announced will be implemented at a global level, we will take complementary steps as required," Morrison and his ministers said today. 

Meanwhile, after banning Aeroflot and all other Russian commercial and private jets from UK airspace and announcing sanctions measures aimed at "imposing severe consequences" on Putin and the Russian economy, the British government today announced its intention to take further restrictive economic measures on Moscow by targeting the Central Bank of the Russian Federation (CBR).

New sanctions measures will cover restrictions to prohibit UK persons from undertaking financial transactions involving the CBR, the Russian National Wealth Fund, and the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation.

The Boris Johnson government said that its package of sanctions are the strongest economic measures the UK has ever enacted against Russia and will inflict "devastating consequences" on Putin and Russia.

"Sanctions will devastate Russia's economy and targets Vladimir Putin directly and his inner circle including Sergey Lavrov. More than 100 companies and oligarchs at the heart of Putin's regime have been hit with sanctions worth 100s of billions of pounds, asset freezes and travel bans," the UK government said Monday.

It also hits hard, the UK government said, Russia's banking and defence sector with asset freezes on Russia's second largest bank VTB and Russian defence giant Rostec which is responsible for $13 billion of arms exports per year.

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