The Russian government has released a list of 41 Australian reporters, defence lobbyists, and local council members barred from entering the country.
Russia’s foreign ministry on Friday night released the blacklist in what it said was a response to “politically motivated sanctions” by the Australian government against Russian individuals.
Among them is SBS chief international correspondent Ben Lewis who has been covering Russia’s invasion of Ukraine since tensions began rising this year.
SBS News’ chief international correspondent Ben Lewis has been named in a new list of people sanctioned by the Russian government following his coverage of the war in Ukraine. Source: SBS News
“Australians from military-industrial complex contractors, journalists and municipal deputies who are shaping the anti-Russian agenda in this country are being denied entry to our country indefinitely,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Mr Lewis, who is currently in London, said he was surprised it took so long to be added to the sanctions list.
“Nice day to be sanctioned by the Russian government, for our coverage of its invasion of Ukraine,” he wrote on Twitter.
Other journalists from the ABC, Nine News, Seven News, Ten News, Sky News, and The Australian were also included on the list, along with several academics.
Executives from military contractor companies Thales Australia, DroneShield, and BAE Systems featured on the list as well.
Woollahra councillors Luise Elsing and Matthew Robertson were also named.
Woollahra council, in Sydney’s east, earlier this year proposed renaming the street where the Russian consulate is based – Fullerton Street – to “Ukraine Street”. The council backed down in June, acknowledging “strong opposition from residents” of the street.
Friday’s sanctions tack onto the .
Those included business people, army officials, academics, and journalists.
Australia won’t ban Russian tourists in response to Ukraine invasions
The announcement came as acting Prime Minister Richard Marles ruled out Australia banning Russian tourists in response to their country’s invasion of Ukraine.
Mr Marles, who is also defence minister, said Australia’s goal was to “empower” Ukraine so it could be at the “centre” of an end to the conflict.
“This needs to be resolved on [Kyiv’s] terms, that has to be the outcome given the unprovoked aggression that we saw from Russia,” he told the ABC on Sunday.
When asked if Australia would ban Russian tourists from entering the country, Mr Marles said sanctions were not focused on the people themselves.
“This is not something that we are considering at the moment, but we are very much a part of the global base of sanctions against the Russian regime,” he said.
Mr Marles also said that Moscow’s aggression “cannot be allowed to stand” when asked if Australia would support Ukraine in its efforts to retake Crimea from Russia following the peninsula’s annexation in 2014.
When queried if Australia would provide more military support to Ukraine amid calls for more aid to help the country solidify its gains against Russia, Mr Marles said the government will be having an “ongoing conversation” about how to do that.
He said there was no “hold up” of military support committed to Ukraine – including Bushmasters and armoured vehicles – with the program “on schedule”.
Asked why the government hadn’t reopened the Australian embassy in Ukraine when about 60 other nations have done so, Mr Marles said it was being worked through, with logistic and security concerns.