Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has announced Australia is considering more economic sanctions on Russia in response to Moscow's action in Ukraine. The prime minister said Russia is on the brink of becoming an "international pariah."
According to reports, Australia is planning to match the measures suggested by the European Union in August, including the choking of Russian banks and their access to Australian capital markets. The additional sanctions will be on top of the ongoing ban of goods and services used in Russia for oil production. The sale of Australian uranium was not included in the list of additional sanctions.
Speaking before the parliament, Mr Abbott said Australia stands with other nations in the world to call on Russia to pull back its military troops and open doors for a dialogue with Ukraine. He threatened Russia will bear more sanctions if Russian President Vladimir Putin does not act to ease tension in Ukraine.
The trade relations between Australia and Russia is worth AU$1.8 billion annually with wheat, beef and butter heavily imported by Moscow. Australia had previously announced export sanctions and in response, Russia retaliated by banning imports of agricultural products from Australia, Canada, EU and the United States.
EU leaders had agreed to come up with a list of options for possible new sanctions against Russia should it take no action in the call to withdraw troops and scale back intervention in Ukraine.
The EU has given Russia one week to scale back its military operations in Ukraine or risk more sanctions. According to NATO officials, at least 1,000 Russian troops are currently in Ukraine, but reports said Russia denies the claim.
Meanwhile, the defence minister of Ukraine has accused Russia of starting a "great war" which would kill thousands of people. In a report by BBC, Russia dismissed the claim and said Ukraine is only involved in a bloody civil conflict.
Ukrainian Defence Minister Valeriy Heletey said a great war has arrived in Ukriane with "the likes of which Europe has not since World War Two." He believes tens of thousands of lives will be lost if Russia continues to intervene.
In response to Heletey's statement, Russian officials were shocked that such comments were made by a defence minister. Reports said Russia has repeatedly denied any arming rebels despite strong accusations from Ukraine and Western countries.