Developments in Ukraine

Media release

2 March 2014

I am gravely concerned by reports of Russian military activity inside Ukraine and by the decision of the Russian parliament to authorise the use of force. It is unacceptable for any nation to threaten the territorial integrity of Ukraine in any way.

The United Nations Security Council has met twice within 24 hours to discuss the escalating crisis in Ukraine. Australia has made clear our unequivocal support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Ukraine, and that the use of force – or the threat of the use of force – is completely unacceptable.

This would not only be contrary to the United Nations Charter, but Russia itself has committed to preserve Ukraine's sovereignty under a series of international agreements to which it is party. What we need to do now is to focus on how to step back urgently from this crisis. Clearly a resolution of tensions will require urgent dialogue.

I am concerned to learn that a request by the new government of Ukraine for urgent talks with the Russian Federation has been rejected. We urge all parties to keep open the channels for dialogue.

Within the UN Security Council, Australia has supported moves for international mediation, including by the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), and the European Union.

It is vitally important for the international community to take active and deliberate steps to prevent further escalation of tensions. I urge the Russian government to abide by its international obligations. I also call on the new government of Ukraine to continue its restraint in the face of provocation.

Australia will remain in close contact with friends and allies on the situation over the coming days, including in the United Nations Security Council.

The Australian Government's travel advice for Ukraine was reissued on 1 March. Due to the volatile political situation in Crimea and the serious risk of further escalation with potential for violence, the Australian Government has increased the level of its travel advice for Crimea to "do not travel".

Australians in Crimea at present should exercise heightened vigilance and leave by commercial means if it is safe to do so. If it is not safe to leave, limit your movements, stay indoors, and avoid demonstrations and large public gatherings.

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