Australia has imposed new sanctions on 67 Russian nationals, including oligarchs, soldiers and government officials, following the country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Foreign Minister Marise Payne announced the latest round of sanctions on Thursday from Brussels where she was invited to speak at a meeting of NATO countries.
The announcement follows evidence of Russian war crimes in Bucha and other areas around the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv.
There are now over 600 people sanctioned by Australia.
The new round includes Russian military officer Colonel General Mikhail Mizintsev, who has been branded the “butcher of Mariupol” for attacks in the city that targeted buildings housing civilians.
Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne (pictured) announced a new round of sanctions against 67 Russians on Wednesday
Russian forces shelled a theater where hundreds of civilians, including children, were sheltering in the cordoned-off port city of Mariupol, the city council said (pictured).
The Donetsk Regional Drama Theater was almost completely destroyed by Russian bombs directed at the building on March 16 despite a large sign saying “children” clearly visible on the sidewalk outside.
City councilors said accounts they had received from survivors of the bombing suggested that hundreds of people died in the attack.
“According to eyewitnesses, information is emerging that about 300 people died in the Mariupol Drama Theater as a result of strikes from a Russian aircraft,” Mariupol City Hall wrote on Telegram.
Ukrainian authorities also said the bodies of at least 410 civilians were found in areas outside kyiv – particularly in the town of Bucha – after Russian troops withdrew last week.
Horrific footage shows many civilians with their hands tied and close-range gunshot wounds.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko was also sanctioned in the new round, along with other senior Russian officials.
“The Australian Government is committed to imposing the highest costs on those who bear responsibility for Russian aggression in Ukraine or who hold the levers of power,” Senator Payne said in a statement.
Satellite images showed the word ‘children’ written in Russian outside the Mariupol Theater building (pictured)
Russian forces shelled the building – which was used to house up to 1,300 civilians (pictured)
NEW ROUND OF SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIANS BY AUSTRALIA
The new round of sanctions against 67 people includes:
Russian military officer, Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, who has been called the “butcher of Mariupol”
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Grigorenko
Minister of Economic Development Maxim Reshetnikov
The so-called “mayor” of Melitopol, installed by the Kremlin, Ukrainian Galina Danilchenko
Member of Ukrainian Parliament Oleg Voloshyn, who worked with Russia to undermine the Ukrainian government
Deputy Chairman of the Russian State Duma, Aleksander Babakov
Other senior Russian government officials
“The Australian Government reiterates its strongest support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine.”
It comes as Australia has joined a growing campaign to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council.
Similar calls have been made by the United States and the United Kingdom.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy used a speech at the UN on Tuesday to call for the expulsion of Russia – one of five permanent members with veto power – from the Security Council so that it does not cannot block peace resolutions on the war against his country.
But under the UN charter, there is no direct way to remove a permanent member of the Security Council.
However, Russia can be suspended from the Human Rights Council with a two-thirds vote in the General Assembly.
Three people were killed and five injured in shelling in a residential area of the city of Kharkiv in mid-March as Moscow maintains its forces only target strategic military infrastructure (pictured)
The attack on the Mariupol theater is further proof that Russia is committing war crimes (pictured, the destroyed building)
Australia co-sponsored the required resolution, but a senior foreign affairs official said the push was underway just before Russia invaded Ukraine.
Moscow has threatened retaliation against states that vote to suspend it.
Senator Payne and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed efforts to hold Russia to account and provide security assistance to Ukraine at NATO ministerial meetings in Brussels.
“Authoritarian states cannot be allowed to trample on the rights of democratic countries,” said Senator Payne.
Evacuees from Mariupol are seen arriving at the parking lot of a shopping mall on the outskirts of the town of Zaporizhzhia, which is now a registration center for displaced people on March 16
Ukraine’s Ambassador to Australia, Vasyl Myroshnychenko, called on the federal government to take further action and ban the entry of Russian goods into the country.
“I encourage all these Australian companies to stop this operation. Doing business is toxic,” he told Network Ten.
“I have an indication that there may be companies in the oil, gas and mining industries that continue to operate in Russia. I will contact these companies directly.