Matamata Chronicle

In the red corner

- Arena Williams Manurewa MP, Labour

The harrowing images and accounts of unimaginab­le suffering coming out of Ukraine underlines the consequenc­es of Russia’s unjustifie­d, unproved aggression.

New Zealand has been strong in our condemnati­on of this invasion and has joined the internatio­nal community in calling on Russia to immediatel­y cease military operations in Ukraine to avoid a catastroph­ic and pointless loss of innocent life.

From the outset it was clear that Russia’s invasion posed a significan­t threat to peace and security in the region and would trigger a humanitari­an crisis, with large numbers of people across Ukraine immediatel­y fleeing towards to border countries.

New Zealand was one of the first to provide humanitari­an aid for Ukraine, with a focus on supporting health facilities and meeting basic needs such as provision of food and hygiene items.

We also moved to fast-track support for Ukrainians to remain or return to New Zealand immediatel­y. And, with the recently increased refugee programme, the

Government is working closely with internatio­nal partners and stands ready to assist as required.

The Government will continue to monitor events closely as the scale of the conflict, and the resulting humanitari­an crisis, becomes clearer. We know the consequenc­es of Russia’s actions will be significan­t, and tragically many of these will fall on innocent people.

In terms of military aid, it is often nations with large military operations that are able to deploy equipment, and potentiall­y personnel. New Zealand is in a different category in that regard. But the Government will continue to work through options consistent with New Zealand’s unequivoca­l opposition to Russia’s actions.

Russia has demonstrat­ed a disregard for diplomacy and efforts to avoid conflict. And, as a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, they have also displayed a blatant disregard for internatio­nal law and abdicated their responsibi­lity to uphold global peace and security.

Russia must face the consequenc­es of those decisions. That is why, in addition to implementi­ng an initial suite of sanctions, we have taken the significan­t step of passing a specific Russia Sanctions Billa.

This is the first time a law of this nature has been brought before our Parliament, but with Russia vetoing United Nations sanctions we had no choice but to take this step.

My thoughts continue to be with the people of Ukraine.

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