Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, 53, has called a snap meeting of the cabinet’s national security committee to discuss the nation’s response to Russia. This comes as Vladimir Putin, 69, announced he was recognizing the independence of two Russia-backed separatist areas in eastern Ukraine, sparking world leaders to fear the invasion of the eastern European nation has begun after Russian tanks were seen rolling into the areas on a “peacekeeping mission”.
After the Kremlin announced it will recognise the self-proclaimed People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk, Western nations introduced sanctions in hopes of stopping the conflict.
Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne has now announced Canberra would use “whatever tools we have available” to impose tougher sanctions following the events which ensued overnight.
Senator Payne also stated discussions would consider expelling Russia’s top diplomat from the capitol.
Speaking to ABC Radio on Wednesday she said: “It’s important to remind Australians that we have existing sanctions in place (against Russia) and they have been imposed since 2014.
READ MORE: ‘Spineless’ Biden ‘on knees’ amid Ukraine crisis – claim
The Foreign Affairs Minister did not reveal the details of the sanctions which will be implemented but stressed that there will be “clear penalties for Russia should they proceed with this”.
Senator Payne went on to state she was hopeful there is still a chance the conflict can be avoided.
She said: “I don’t agree that there is no stopping a comprehensive invasion because Russia still always has the option not to proceed.
“That’s what we … and like-mindeds have been calling for.”
Other nations to introduce sanctions include Germany halting approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia and the US announcing their own set of sanctions.
US President Joe Biden, 79, called the move “invasion” as he announced the “first tranche” of sanctions on the Kremlin.
The 46th US President said in a press briefing from the White House: “This is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine…so I am going to begin to impose sanctions in response.”
While the US believes roughly 190,000 Russian troops are estimated to be gathered near Ukraine’s borders, Russia has denied any wrongdoing.
The Kremlin reiterated its demands on Tuesday that Ukraine should never join NATO.