New Zealand Prime Minister John Key Back Peddles on Russia Sanctions…….Foreign Minister Murray McCully ‘Sanctions are largely symbolic ‘

Posted: November 22, 2014 in Econ 101, Free Trade, Sanctions on Russia Meaningless

SEE ALSO:  Energy Stocks Reveal Sanctions on Russia Meaningless – Investorplace

No trade with Russia


Russian President Vladimir Putin attends G20.
Russian President Vladimir Putin attends G20.

Prime Minister John Key says Russia has tried to reignite free trade talks – but New Zealand has made it clear it will not budge until Russia buckles to international demands over Ukraine.

And Key said Putin sending warships in an apparent show of muscle-flexing during the weekend’s G20 summit was unhelpful when Russia was facing increasing international pressure over the Ukraine and suspicions it was involved in the shooting down of the Malaysia Airlines flight.

However, Key could also face questions about why New Zealand is not taking a firmer stance on Russia.

Key said halting the free trade talks had sent a message. The Government had pulled Trade Minister Tim Groser out of the talks in March because of the Ukraine. “We were within millimetres of signing a free trade agreement with Russia and we stopped that. The Russians have been wanting to progress that and New Zealand has been saying ‘no, we’re not going to progress that until we see a change in what has been happening and the approach of the international community’.”

Asked if that was damaging our reputation at the G20, where many countries had imposed the sanctions, he said New Zealand law did not allow it to impose specific trade sanctions, so it was limited to travel sanctions. However, New Zealand companies had been urged not to trade with Russia. “There would be great opportunities for our companies, in particular dairy companies like Fonterra to exploit that and they’re not doing that.”

He said if the law allowed those sanctions New Zealand would have imposed them. He blamed Labour for that, saying it would not agree to change the law to allow sanctions other than those mandated by the UN. Attempts to get that mandate from the Security Council had been stymied by Russia’s veto power.

Key said there was little that could be done about Putin and the warships, which risked overshadowing the EU.

“He will have his own motivations for doing that. You’ve got the 20 biggest leaders in the world here for G20, ultimately there are a lot of different positions. Some of those things are bubbling away and having quite a big impact.”

He did not believe the standoff would derail the G20. “Really, people’s attention will be focused on the leaders and the outcomes of the G20 and less about whether there’s a few Russian ships floating around off the coast of Australia.”

He said the trouble over Ukraine was having an impact on economic growth in Europe.

Also yesterday Key announced New Zealand has completed a free trade deal with South Korea.

“It’s been a long hard agreement to reach,” he told reporters. “It’s a good deal.”

He said South Korea is a big market for New Zealand, with two-way trade between the two countries worth $4 billion a year.



Sanctions against Russia symbolic, McCully admits
Foreign Minister Murray McCully. Photo / APN
Foreign Minister Murray McCully. Photo / APN

New Zealand’s modest travel sanctions over Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine are largely symbolic, says Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

Mr McCully said he does not expect any retaliation from Russia “at this stage”.

He would not name the individuals on the travel-ban list but it is understood that Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov are not on it, in keeping with other countries’ sanctions.

“We are looking to keep well clear of provoking further anguish,” he said.
Mr McCully said he wrote to Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse on Friday to effectively trigger the process of listing the individuals covered.

New Zealand’s move should be seen as largely symbolic, he said.

“I don’t think we should pretend that there’s a queue of Crimean and Russian leaders looking to visit New Zealand,” he told the Herald from Singapore yesterday.

“On the other hand, it would not look good if, at a time when others were putting in place sanctions, particularly in Europe, to demonstrate their concerns, New Zealand was to not be in step, but it is largely symbolic.” New Zealand’s sanctions will take the form of a travel ban against certain individual Russians and Crimean leaders, whereas the European Union and the United States have frozen the assets of individuals.
Mr McCully would not say how many people were on the list but he indicated they were comparable to ones drawn up by Australia, the EU and the US – about 30 people.

He said it would most likely change because it was an evolving situation.

NZ was deliberately following in the footsteps of others “because there is a very delicate process being worked through by the key players, of whom we are not one”.

“These travel sanctions are a modest and careful step designed to recognise the significance of the situation but leave room for further diplomatic work to take place.”

Because New Zealand does not recognise Crimea, the official statement says the sanctions will apply to specific Russian and Ukrainian individuals, not Crimean separatists, and it refers to the “crisis in Ukraine”.

Mr McCully was attending a Commonwealth ministers meeting and putting New Zealand’s case for a seat on the United Nations Security Council.


  1. HSS says:

    why are we only reading western propogandist news? Putin was going into Australia – a well acknowledged US puppet government – do you not think that his life is in danger? All proof to MH downing (SU-22 Ukraine jets), the regime change in Ukraine is all US done – you even had the US congress and Victoria Nuland giving out cookies on Maidan Sq, openly planning regime change also saying F**K teh Eu etc…why all this against Russia? The US – Nato has attacked and BOMBED 10 countries in the last 5 years – it is obvious who the aggressor is here!


    • Thanks for your response

      You’re missing the point of not only this article but this entire website. The point of this article is Australia’s politicians admit sanctions against Russia are meaningless and symbolic. Unfortunately you fail to see how the West works with the East through trivial political measures that are more for TV audiences than for corporate leaders.


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