Foreign affairs and defence matters account for the only two press statements from the Beehive since our previous report on Beehive Buzz.
One statement advised that Defence Minister Peeni Henare will depart tomorrow for bilateral visits to Fiji and Australia, to meet with counterparts to reaffirm New Zealand’s commitment to regional security in the Pacific and discuss ways to strengthen defence cooperation with partners.
The other statement gave an account of a chat between our PM and Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal. She had called him “to reiterate New Zealand’s strong support for Ukraine and its people, and our unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s aggression”.
This statement says:
“… Prime Minister Shmyhal thanked New Zealand for being one of the first countries to take swift practical action against Russia’s aggression. As he noted, when it comes to the importance of the global response, there is no bigger or smaller country, there are only countries that are reacting.”
This might surprise some Kiwi commentators, who were bothered by the time taken for our government to take substantive action in response to the Russian invasion. But at least our PM has identified the villain of the piece:
“I conveyed our condemnation of President Putin’s unprovoked, unjustified and illegal attack on Ukraine – an attack which continues to unnecessarily claim the lives of so many innocent people,” Jacinda Ardern said.
This is noteworthy because, as Point of Order reported on February 26, four statements dealing with the Russian invasion of Ukraine had been issued over the previous few days. Not one mentioned the name of the Russian despot who had unleashed his army on the hapless Ukrainians.
Indeed, we had to wait until March 9 for Putin to be named in a Beehive press statement. On that day Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta said:
“New Zealand unequivocally condemns the Putin regime’s brutal and intolerable invasion of Ukraine.”
“We acted quickly to condemn Putin’s war and immediately implemented a suite of measures in response including travel bans”
That was the first time the rogue had been named in a Beehive press statement since February 17 2015, when Murray McCully was Minister of Foreign Affairs and announced NZ urges all parties to make Ukraine Ceasefire work).
In her weekend statement, the PM said she discussed the current and ongoing support needed in Ukraine, including the humanitarian need.
“We also discussed the historic nature of our Russia sanctions legislation, passed under urgency, allowing us to add 364 political and military individuals to our travel ban list, and placing sanctions on Russian Leader Vladimir Putin and members of his Security Council, as well as other entities,” Jacinda Ardern said.
“Russia continues to demonstrate a disregard for diplomacy and efforts to avoid conflict, and must continue to face the consequences of their decision to invade Ukraine,” Jacinda Ardern said.
On Friday an additional 364 political and military targets had been added to NZ’s travel ban list and 13 individuals and 19 entities added to a targeted sanctions list, including prohibition of maritime vessels and aircraft and asset freezes.
The full list of the individuals and entities impacted by Russia Sanctions Act 2022 can be found on the MFAT website here.
But let’s get back to the question of whether our government acted swiftly.
Swift is one thing, of course. Adequate is another.
On March 4 Newsroom posted an article headed Ardern’s response to Ukraine invasion is too cautious.
The author was Geoffrey Miller, international analyst for the Democracy Project, who wrote:
New Zealand now finds itself standing virtually alone among western countries in having applied few meaningful economic sanctions against Russia.
New Zealand’s initial response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been remarkably nuanced.
Point of Order has checked the government’s response since February 12, when the press statement headline summed up concerns in a nutshell: Government calls on New Zealanders in Ukraine to leave immediately
- 17 FEBRUARY 2022
Mahuta advised she would be departing for Europe to represent New Zealand at the Indo-Pacific Forum in Paris, to undertake a bilateral visit to the United Kingdom, and to participate in the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.
The Indo-Pacific Forum in Paris would discuss bilateral, regional and global issues of mutual interest, including Russia-Ukraine tensions.
- 23 FEBRUARY 2022
Mahuta said the Ambassador of the Russian Federation was being called in to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade amid “escalating actions” from Russia.
In the event of a full invasion of Ukraine, the Government was prepared to respond
“.. with a suite of measures in line with those of our partners, and which will send a clear message of unity against an act of Russian aggression. These measures span the range of options available to New Zealand, including travel bans, controlled export bans and diplomatic measures”.
- 24 FEBRUARY 2022
New Zealand condemned the advance of Russian military personnel and equipment into Ukraine – but we were unwilling to announce sanctions. No yet.
“We remain in close contact with partners on the evolving situation, including on appropriate measures being considered by the international community. I will make a further announcement in due course,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
- 24 FEBRUARY 2022
Ardern and Mahuta jointly issued a statement to reiterate that New Zealand condemns Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,
“… and will join partners in introducing a range of measures in response.”
New Zealand would implement several measures in response to Russia’s actions, including:
- Targeted travel bans against Russian Government officials and other individuals associated with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, “in line with a number of our partners”;
- A ban on exports of goods to Russian military and security forces; and
- The suspension of bilateral foreign ministry consultations until further notice;
But the emphasis was on this being no more than what other countries were doing:
“In applying these measures, New Zealand joins other members of the international community, in responding to this breach of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
At that stage we had no humanitarian assistance to offer.
“Given serious concerns that a military conflict in Ukraine could lead to a humanitarian crisis, I have also asked officials to provide advice on humanitarian response options, and how New Zealand could potentially contribute in this area.
- 25 FEBRUARY 2022
The PM called on Russia to immediately cease military operations in Ukraine and permanently withdraw to avoid a catastrophic and pointless loss of innocent life.
She confirmed that New Zealand has immediately implemented a number of measures in response to Russia’s actions – the introduction of targeted travel bans against Russian Government officials and other individuals associated with the invasion of Ukraine; the prohibition of export of goods to Russian military and security forces; the suspension of bilateral foreign Ministry consultations until further notice.
- 28 FEBRUARY 2022
Mahuta announced New Zealand was providing an initial $2 million to help deliver essential humanitarian assistance, with a focus on supporting health facilities and meeting basic needs such as provision of food and hygiene items.
- 1 MARCH 2022
Issuing New Zealand’s Statement to the UN Human Rights Council, Mahuta again condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
- 7 MARCH 2022
The PM said the Government would significantly expand its sanctions on Russia and individuals and companies connected to the Russian Government through a first of its kind, targeted, autonomous sanctions regime.
The Russia Sanctions Bill would pass under urgency during that week, to provide further, extensive sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
A Bill of this nature had never been brought before our Parliament,
“.. but with Russia vetoing UN sanctions we must act ourselves to support Ukraine and our partners in opposition to this invasion,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
“When we first responded to Russia’s invasion by issuing targeted travel bans, prohibiting exports to the military and suspending bilateral foreign ministry consultations we said no options were off the table.
“Today we take the next step in our response to increase sanctions, in line with the actions of our partners.”
- 9 MARCH 2022
Parliament had unanimously passed historic sanctions legislation in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.
And hurrah – at last Vladimir Putin was named in despatches from the Beehive
“New Zealand unequivocally condemns the Putin regime’s brutal and intolerable invasion of Ukraine. It is an unprovoked, illegal and entirely avoidable tragedy,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said.
“We acted quickly to condemn Putin’s war and immediately implemented a suite of measures in response including travel bans. But Russia has not ceased its unprovoked, unjustified and inhumane aggression on innocent people in Ukraine so a greater response was required.
The first tranche of sanctions was being worked on “at pace” and was expected in the next week.
- 15 MARCH 2022
New Zealand is providing more humanitarian aid to support people in Ukraine, Mahuta announced. “
“New Zealand will be providing an additional $4 million in funding to support Ukrainian communities,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
This funding was in addition to the initial $2 million already provided
- 15 MARCH 2022
The Government announced it was “ramping up an unprecedented scale of humanitarian support for the Ukrainian refugee crisis” by introducing a new 2022 Special Ukraine Policy.
The policy will allow Ukrainian born New Zealand citizens and residents here to bring in members of their Ukrainian family whose lives are at risk due to Russia’s aggression.
More than 2 million people at that time had fled the war in Ukraine with the United Nations Refugee Agency labelling it the fastest-growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.
“This is the largest special visa category we have established in decades to support an international humanitarian effort and, alongside the additional $4 million in humanitarian funding also announced today, it adds to a number of measures we’ve already implemented to respond to the worsening situation in Ukraine,” Immigration Minister Kris Faafoi said.
And (they keep saying it)
“New Zealand has moved quickly to condemn the brutal and intolerable invasion of Ukraine.”
The 2022 Special Ukraine Policy will be open for a year and allow the estimated 1,600 Ukrainian-born citizens and residents in New Zealand to sponsor parents, grand-parents and adult siblings or adult children and their immediate family who are ordinarily resident in Ukraine to shelter safely here.
- 18 MARCH 2022
The Government “has stepped up its sanctions against Russia” with the release of the first tranche of targeted sanctions under the Russia Sanctions Act enacted overnight, Mahuta said..
At midnight 13 individuals and 19 entities had been added to a targeted sanctions list and the coverage of the travel ban was significantly widened.
“The world is united against Putin’s actions in Ukraine, and only one week after passing historic legislation, we are joining the international community in applying our first targeted sanctions,” Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said.
This was just the start with more sanctions to come …
“We expect to progressively announce more substantive sanctions as officials work through the appropriate process required under legislation. We want to ensure processing is correct when designating individuals and entities, and reinforcing the international community including our closest partners to place pressure on influential individuals,” said Nanaia Mahuta.
- 19 MARCH 2022
And that’s where this post began ….
Latest from the Beehive
20 MARCH 2022
Minister of Defence Peeni Henare will depart tomorrow for bilateral visits to Fiji and Australia to meet with counterparts to reaffirm our commitment to regional security in the Pacific and discuss ways to strengthen defence cooperation with partners.
19 MARCH 2022
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this morning spoke to Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, to reiterate New Zealand’s strong support for Ukraine and its people, and our unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s aggression.
UPDATE: Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta today announced that New Zealand will provide a further $5 million contribution of non-lethal military assistance to support Ukraine, and are making available a range of surplus defence equipment to share with Ukraine at their request.