The Government is rushing the Russia Sanctions Bill into law this week to enable further sanctions on those responsible for or associated with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister of Foreign Affairs Nanaia Mahuta made the announcement at a post-cabinet meeting in Pōneke at 4pm today.
A sanction is when a government creates new rules designed to punish another country.
Sanctions can be economic, for example stopping companies or banks from doing business with the target country; or related to travel, like stopping visas; or diplomatic, for example kicking out diplomats from the target country; or military, like stopping the sales of weapons to that country.
The sanctions are autonomous, which means New Zealand can enact them without approval from any other countries.
This is important because Russia has voted down group efforts at sanctions at the United Nations.
This is the first time a Bill like this has been before Parliament, the Prime Minister said.
How will it work?
A public sanctions register will be set up to list every individual entity, asset, or service that is sanctioned, going after those who are economically or strategically important to Russia, including oligarchs.
“This bill will be specific and targeted towards those funding and supporting war,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said.
The sanctions will enable the Government to freeze assets located in New Zealand.
Those sanctioned will also be prevented from moving assets to New Zealand or using our financial system as a back door to get around sanctions increasingly imposed by other countries.
“Sanctions could also apply to trade, and financial institutions as well as stopping the likes of Russian superyachts, ships, and aircraft from entering New Zealand waters or airspace.
“The Bill also allows for sanctions to be imposed against other states complicit with Russia’s illegal actions, such as Belarus,” Jacinda Ardern said.
Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the creation of this targeted sanctions bill will send a clear signal that New Zealand will not be a safe haven for those wishing to move their investments here.
“As a small country that is a supporter of the multilateral system to uphold peace and security, New Zealand has historically supported sanctions through the United Nations system,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
“New Zealand continues to call on Russia to do what is right and immediately cease military operations in Ukraine and permanently withdraw to avoid a catastrophic loss of innocent life.
“The Government welcomed the feedback from all parties in Parliament in the development of this legislation, and the cross-party support of the Bill allowing it to pass under urgency,” Nanaia Mahuta said.
New Zealand has already given an initial $2 million in aid, prioritised visa applications and released emergency oil stocks.