SYDNEY — A groundbreaking law enabling New Zealand to freeze the assets of those associated with Russia is expected to pass this week.
The new Russia Sanctions Bill — in response to its invasion of Ukraine — would allow authorities to target individuals, services, companies and assets. The new legislation would allow New Zealand to impose sanctions on an individual country for the first time.
The South Pacific nation can now implement sanctions only when the United Nations Security Council has imposed them. Russia’s veto in the council, however, has prevented that from happening.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said her government’s unilateral penalties — prompted by the invasion of Ukraine — would freeze Russian assets in New Zealand and stop superyachts, ships and aircraft owned by targeted individuals from entering the country’s waters or airspace. The measures would extend to Russian oligarchs and countries that support Russia, including Belarus.
The government in Wellington has also released a list banning 100 individuals from traveling to New Zealand.
Ardern said Monday the new laws would strike a financial and political blow on Russia.
“It will target those of economic or strategic relevance to Russia, including oligarchs. The sanctions will freeze assets located in New Zealand,” she said. “It will also prevent those who are sanctioned from moving assets to New Zealand or using our financial system as a backdoor to get around sanctions increasingly imposed by other countries.”
New Zealand’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta, said Tuesday that international sanctions placed on Russia would act as “a wall of resistance” and send a message to Moscow that the invasion of Ukraine was wrong.
The Australian government said it would be introducing more punitive action on Russia’s “propagandists and purveyors of disinformation.”
Its foreign minister, Marise Payne, said Tuesday that financial sanctions would target members of the Russian military who were “responsible for implementing naval, ground and air attacks on Ukraine.”
Payne said the Canberra government was also working with Facebook, Google and Twitter “to take action to suspend the dissemination of content generated by Russian state media within Australia.”