| SYDNEY, Sept 1
SYDNEY, Sept 1 Australia on Monday unveiled
fresh sanctions against Russia over what Prime Minister Tony
Abbott called its "bullying" of neighbouring Ukraine, where the
Kremlin is accused of backing pro-Russian insurgent groups
battling the government in Kiev.
The sanctions, which restrict arms exports and the access of
Russian state-owned banks to Australian capital markets, build
on financial sanctions and travel bans enacted by Australia in
"So far, at least 2,500 people have lost their lives in this
conflict. Let's be clear about what is happening here. Russia
started it and Russia must take responsibility for this loss of
life," Abbott told parliament.
"So, Madam Speaker, I can inform the house that Australia
will lift its sanctions against Russia to the level of the
The United States and EU have gradually tightened economic
sanctions against Russia, first imposed after Moscow annexed
Crimea following the ousting of Kiev's pro-Russian president by
protesters in February.
EU leaders agreed on Saturday to draw up new economic
sanctions against Moscow, a move hailed by the United States,
which is planning tighter sanctions of its own and wants to act
jointly with Europe.
So far, however, the measures have done little to deter
Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has in recent days
compared Kiev's attempts to recapture rebellious cities with the
Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union.
The five-month conflict in Ukraine reached a dangerous point
last week after NATO said that well over 1,000 Russian troops
had crossed the Ukrainian border and were fighting alongside
Abbott has struck perhaps the toughest line of any Western
leader against the rebels in Ukraine, accused by Western
countries and intelligence agencies of shooting down Malaysia
Airlines Flight MH17 in July, killing all 298 passengers and
crew, including 28 Australians.
(Reporting by Matt Siegel; Editing by Nick Macfie)