Australia evacuates its embassy in Kiev and calls on China to defend Ukraine

Feb 13 (Reuters) – Australia announced on Sunday it was evacuating its embassy in Kyiv as the situation on the Russia-Ukraine border rapidly deteriorated, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison calling on China not to remain “terribly silent” on the crisis.

The United States and Europe have intensified their warnings of an imminent Russian attack on Ukraine, while the Kremlin, jostling for more influence in post-Cold War Europe, has dismissed a joint EU-NATO diplomatic response to his demands for reduced tensions as disrespectful. Read more

Australian embassy staff in Kyiv have been directed to a temporary office in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine about 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the border with Poland, the court said. Foreign Minister Marise Payne in a statement.

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“We continue to advise Australians to leave Ukraine immediately through commercial means,” Payne said.

Morrison said the situation was “reaching a very dangerous stage” and added that “Russia’s autocratic unilateral actions threatening and intimidating Ukraine is something completely and utterly unacceptable.”

Morrison, whose government has frosty relations with China, also called on Beijing to defend Ukraine, after China criticized a meeting of US, Australian, Japanese and Indian foreign ministers in Melbourne last week. Read more

“The Chinese government is happy to criticize Australia…but remains awfully quiet about the buildup of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border,” Morrison told a news conference.

“The coalition of autocracies that we see, seeking to bully other countries, is not something Australia ever takes a light stance on.”

Relations between Australia and China, its biggest trading partner, soured after Canberra banned Huawei Technologies (HWT.UL) from its 5G broadband network in 2018, toughened laws against foreign policy interference and demanded an independent investigation into the origins of COVID-19.

(This story refiles to correct typo in title)

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Reporting by Lidia Kelly in Melbourne; Editing by Sandra Maler

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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