Foreign Minister Penny Wong has called on China to use its “no limits” partnership with Russia to help bring an end to the Kremlin’s “illegal, immoral” invasion of Ukraine.
Senator Wong has used a speech to the United Nations General Assembly to say countries with close ties to Moscow must exert their influence to stop the war.
“In this pursuit, the world looks to China, a great power, a Permanent Member of the Security Council, with a ‘no limits partnership’ with Russia,” Senator Wong told UN delegates in New York on Saturday morning (AEST).
“It was never intended that the Security Council veto power would be used to enable unchecked abuse of the UN charter — by the very countries that were given the veto.”
Russia, which is a permanent member of the Security Council, in February vetoed a resolution that would have demanded that Moscow immediately stop its attack on Ukraine and withdraw all troops.
Months later, the ongoing conflict has killed thousands of people and wreaked havoc on the global economy.
China has not condemned Russia’s military attack or called it an “invasion”.
Speaking a day after her second in-person meeting with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Senator Wong characterised Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as “an assertion that a larger country is entitled to subjugate a smaller neighbour”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin this week warned he was willing to use any military means necessary in the war with Ukraine and accused the West of what he called “nuclear blackmail”.
In a televised address, Mr Putin threatened to use nuclear weapons, saying “this is not a bluff”, and announced plans to mobilise 300,000 reservists to fight in Ukraine.
Senator Wong told the UN Mr Putin’s nuclear threats were “weak and desperate”.
“(They) underline the danger that nuclear weapons pose to us all, and the urgent need for progress on nuclear disarmament,” she said.
“Australia has always pursued a world without nuclear weapons, and we will redouble our efforts towards this goal – and to strengthening the non-proliferation regime.”
Senator Wong also used her speech to promise more foreign aid from Australia, saying it is increasing its development assistance spending by more than $1bn.
She said the federal government was designing a new development policy for this “era of crisis” to help developing nations “without driving them into unsustainable debt”.
Senator Wong will reaffirm the Albanese government’s commitment to tackling climate change as part of its responsibility to its smaller Pacific neighbours, saying the “alarm bells” of extreme weather were growing louder around the world.
More to come