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Australia stiffens Russia sanctions after Putin’s latest land grab

Australia will impose further financial sanctions and travel bans on almost 30 Moscow-backed separatists in Ukraine and senior Russian officials.

The Albanese government on Sunday announced another 28 people would be penalised for trying to legitimise Russian attempts to annex swathes of Ukraine through “sham” referendums in the war-torn nation.

In a statement, the government said any claim the referendums held in the regions of Luhansk, Donetsk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia were legitimate was baseless.

“The areas of Ukraine currently occupied by Russian forces are the sovereign territory of Ukraine, no sham referendum will change this,” Foreign Minister Penny Wong said.

The announcement of Russian rule over more than 15 per cent of Ukraine – the biggest annexation in Europe since World War II – has been roundly rejected as illegal, with the United States, Britain and Canada all already announcing new sanctions.

Australia has also backed Ukraine’s claim Russia has violated the UN’s genocide convention, filing a supporting intervention in the International Court of Justice.

The government continues to call on Russia to withdraw its military forces from Ukraine in compliance with the International Court of Justice’s binding order from March this year.

Australia will continue to work closely with the international community to “impose high costs” on those responsible for the invasion.

Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the intervention was Australia’s commitment to upholding international law.

“We stand with Ukraine in bringing these proceedings against Russia before the International Court of Justice,” he said.

-AAP



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