Greece ‘in full coordination’ with EU, NATO as Russia sends troops into Ukraine

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Russian troops have moved into Ukraine’s two breakaway regions, Donetsk and Luhansk, after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his defence force to dispatch a “peace keeping” force.

The military movements come after Putin signed a decree on Tuesday recognising the breakaway republics, effectively scuppering efforts to resolve tensions in the region under the Minsk Protocol.

Western leaders say the troops have crossed the border into Ukraine as a pretext for further occupation and in preparation for a full-scale assault.

In response, these leaders have started unveiling economic sanctions against Russian institutions.

Australia, US, UK and the EU roll out sanctions:

Late on Tuesday, US President Joe Biden ordered ‘full blocking sanctions’ on two Russian banks, oligarchs and Russia’s access to Western markets.

Biden also said the US was moving forces to protect NATO’s Baltic allies as “this is the beginning of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.”

In the UK, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country would slap sanctions on five Russian banks and three wealthy individuals.

“We must now brace ourselves for the next possible stages of Putin’s plan,” Mr Johnson told UK parliament.

The European Union have also sanctioned members of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament. A further 27 Russian entities and individuals have also been sanctioned.

“This package of sanctions that has been approved by unanimity by the member states will hurt Russia, and it will hurt a lot,” EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, told a news conference.

European Council President Charles Michel, right, and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Photo: Olivier Matthys/AP.

On Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed Australia will also join other western nations to impose financial sanctions on Russia, as punishment for its actions in Ukraine.

Mr Morrison said targeted travel bans and financial sanctions will be imposed on eight individuals on Russia’s national security council who are “aiding and abetting” the invasion, and broader sanctions will be extended to the separatist Ukrainian regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. 

“The invasion of Ukraine has effectively already begun. This invasion is unjustified, it’s unwarranted, it’s unprovoked and it’s unacceptable,” Mr Morrison said.

“Australians always stand up to bullies, and we will be standing up to Russia.”

Scott Morrison announced sanctions this afternoon.

Greek PM: ‘Russia undermining international stability’

These sanctions come as Greece’s Foreign Affairs and Defence Council said on Tuesday that the country is “acting in full coordination” with its European Union partners and NATO allies over unfolding developments in Ukraine.

In a statement released after an emergency meeting convened by Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the council reiterated Athens’ position that Moscow’s recognition of breakaway states and its mobilisation of troops, is a “violation of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and of the fundamental principles of international law.”

Ministers leave the emergency meeting in Athens.

With regards to thousands of Greek citizens and ethnic Greeks living in the former Soviet nation, the government said that the relevant authorities in Kyiv and Mariupol are “in a constant state of readiness to provide whatever assistance may be necessary.”

Later on Tuesday, after a meeting with a delegation of Bulgarian ministers in Athens, Mitsotakis added that Russia’s actions are “undermining international stability and progress.”

“Greece respects the territorial integrity, the sovereignty and the independence of all nations as a fundamental matter of principle,” the Greek Prime Minister added.

“So it roundly condemns any actions that go against these values and, as a member state of the European Union and NATO, is already in coordination with its partners so that there is a joint and essential reaction.”

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