Prime Minister Tony Abbott has led Australian condemnation of Russia’s “unacceptable” incursions into the Ukraine, telling it to “back off”.
US President Barack Obama has warned Vladimir Putin of allied reprisals for Russia’s intervention into the Ukraine, which he said has violated international law.
But in an escalation of the crisis the Russian parliament has given President Putin the green-light for the deployment of troops to the Ukraine, in response to the uprising that swept pro-EU leaders to power.
According to the Ukrainian government, Russia has already sent 6000 troops into the Crimea.
The Australian prime minister on Sunday joined a growing international chorus against Russia’s incursions across the Ukrainian border.
“I think that every Australian, I think that people right around the world would be thinking right now, `Hands off the Ukraine’,” Mr Abbott told Network Ten on Sunday.
“This is not the kind of action of a friend and neighbour and really Russia should back off.”
Mr Abbott said it was “simply unacceptable” for Russia to interfere militarily in the Ukraine, describing the events as “very, very concerning”.
However, he refused to speculate on whether the US should use force to resist any Russian military action.
“But plainly this is unacceptable behaviour,” he said.
“You cannot just cross the border of another country with military force, with aggressive intent.”
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Russia should “take its nose out of Ukrainian business”.
“Let Ukraine get on with being run in a peaceful and democratic manner,” he told reporters in Hobart.