Interview with Jim Wilson, 2GB Drive
Jim Wilson: Now I want to bring in our Foreign Minister, Marise Payne, who's just arrived in Laos. She's been in Europe for crucial talks. Minister, welcome back to Drive.
Marise Payne: Good afternoon, Jim.
Jim Wilson: Well, what's your reaction to this news this afternoon that Russia has declared war on Ukraine?
Marise Payne: Well, we have been very clear, Jim, that Australia condemns this move utterly. It is a wholesale breach of international law, and it is reckless and destructive. There is no justification, and we know that the cost will be borne by innocent Ukrainians. So we are deeply concerned about these steps and have been explicit in condemning them.
Jim Wilson: You would have had briefings and we're just standing by to hear from the Prime Minister. Scott Morrison will give an update shortly. You would have had security briefings as the Foreign Minister. What further sanctions? What further action will Australia be taking against Russia?
Marise Payne: We have, as you know, initiated a first phase of sanctions yesterday and made public the details of that. We will now escalate that sanctions response, including additional sanctions on 25 individuals, which will include army commanders, deputy defense ministers, and Russian mercenaries who have been responsible for this unprovoked and unacceptable aggression towards Ukraine. We will also include four entities involved in the development and sales of military technology and weapons, and we will place investment restrictions on four Russian financial institutions. Jim, we are also preparing a package of assistance to support humanitarian relief, which we will do through the UN and international agencies. There are a number of international agencies which have been strongly supporting Ukraine prior to this, and we will work closely with international partners and with those agencies.
Jim Wilson: I know you've been on a plane from Europe and just landed in Laos. Can you please tell us any update on the latest as far as Australians that might be still in Ukraine?
Marise Payne: Jim, I have just landed in Vientiane from Prague, but we would like to reinforce our advice that Australians in Ukraine should leave immediately if it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to do so, they should shelter in place until it is safe to depart. We have been very clear since at least the 25th of January in terms of our direction to Australians to leave Ukraine. Many have, many have moved elsewhere in Europe, and we have been supporting a number of families through consular support as well.
Jim Wilson: Okay. Is the government considering kicking out the Russian ambassador in Canberra?
Jim Wilson: Well, there's always an option that is available. The Russian ambassador was called in on Wednesday by the Secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In that conversation, we conveyed Australia's very deep concern about this unprovoked and unacceptable aggression against Ukraine. There is the option, as I said, to do that, but we will determine those next steps in the coming days.
Jim Wilson: What's your message to the Ukrainian community who are living in Sydney and also around Australia?
Marise Payne: My message, Jim, is that we understand the deep sadness and, frankly, in many cases, fear that they will be experiencing for their country of origin, for their loved ones and the unacceptable and terrible aggression that Russia is imposing here. We will support them, of course, in Australia. The Ukrainian diaspora is a valued and important part of Australia's multicultural fabric. I've spoken with the Foreign Minister. The Prime Minister has spoken with the Prime Minister, and we will ensure that we can support them in any way possible to very sad to see what's unfolding.
Jim Wilson: I know you've got a very, very busy schedule. I know you've just landed in Laos, and we do appreciate you calling into the program. Thank you, Minister.
Marise Payne: Thanks very much, Jim.
Jim Wilson: That's Foreign Minister, Marise Payne.