New Zealand passes historic Russia Sanctions Act

Foreign Affairs

Parliament has unanimously passed historic sanctions legislation in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“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.

“Despite the UN General Assembly voting 141 to 5 condemning Russia’s actions, Russia has vetoed any UN sanctions. As such, while a bill of this nature has never been brought before our Parliament, we have done this strong in the knowledge we are acting in line with the international community.

“The Russia Sanctions Act provides a broad legal framework which enables New Zealand to impose economic sanctions targeting specific people, and companies, assets and services involved with Russia’s aggression.

“The Act means we could for example, stop the purchase or sale of property, the movement of ships and planes in New Zealand’s waters or airspace, stop imports and exports, lending of money, or the movement of money.

“This is not about targeting people simply for being Russian. Sanctions will target those who are linked to Russia’s war in Ukraine, or who are of economic or strategic importance to Putin’s regime.

“This could include family members of key players, Russian Banks, and other countries like Belarus who actively support Russia.

“We will continue to work collectively with our international partners to hold Putin and his regime to account. We must, together, impose significant costs on the Putin regime for its abhorrent actions.

“I want to acknowledge the people of Ukraine for their strength and resilience during these unprecedented times. Our thoughts are with Ukrainians who have borne the brunt of Putin’s violence and who have deeply suffered due to his regime’s callous and abhorrent actions. We are also thinking of the Russian people who did not choose this fight and do not want this war. 

“To the Putin regime – let us be clear. Do what is right and end this invasion. New Zealand continues to call on you to cease fire, withdraw and end this pointless war,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

The first tranche of sanctions are being worked on at pace, and are expected in the next week.