Government all bark no bite over Ukraine tensions

Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s comments yesterday held little weight, given New Zealand’s inability to back them with any unilateral action, National Foreign Affairs spokesperson Gerry Brownlee says.

“New Zealand has always upheld state sovereignty and international laws and norms, and it’s right that the Government calls on Russia to de-escalate the current border tensions and respect Ukraine’s autonomy.

“However, Minister Mahuta’s statement is not reinforced by any ability for the Government to take any unilateral action, relying instead on the United Nations Security Council’s sanction regime which Russia can veto at any stage.

“This essentially means no action can be taken by the United Nations to sanction Russia for its flagrant violation of international law.

“Minister Mahuta, in her speech voting down my Autonomous Sanctions Bill last year, said the Government continues “to favour multilateral collaboration”, despite this being rendered obsolete in many instances by the United Nations veto power.

“It’s time New Zealand stopped relying on obsolete multilateral tools and brought ourselves in line with our traditional partners.

“I call on the Government to introduce a unilateral sanctions regime of our own when the House resumes in February.”