Aussie PM Calls Beijing and Moscow Partnership ‘Chilling’

By Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark
Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.
March 8, 2022 Updated: March 8, 2022

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called the partnership between Beijing and Moscow “chilling” and said it was critical European and Indo-Pacific nations remain clear-eyed on the current global security climate.

Speaking at the Lowy Institute on March 7, Morrison said he was deeply concerned about the similarities he was seeing between autocratic regimes in the Indo-Pacific region and the Russian authorities.

“I found it quite chilling when I spoke to other leaders about conversations that they’ve had with President Putin about these issues, and they’re subjected to a rather lengthy lecture on nationalistic aspirations of Russia and what is rightly theirs,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said.

“That has a chilling reverberation with similar lectures that I have been on the receiving end of about situations in the Indo-Pacific and what people claim to be theirs,” he said.

Epoch Times Photo
Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison speaks to the media to announce sanctions on top Russian officials following the invasion of eastern Ukraine, during a press conference in Sydney, Australia, on Feb. 23, 2022. (Steven Saphore/AFP via Getty Images)

“So I think we have to be eternally vigilant on this, and this is very important for Australia. You know, we can’t step back from this. I know it comes at a cost. I know it means that we have been targeted. But we must look clear-eyed about the threats in our own region and what’s occurring in Europe.”

Morrison also dismissed media reports that Putin was acting irrationally or that this was a ruse by Moscow to gain an advantage in some negotiation.

“We hear the theories, ‘It’s just he’s all gone mad.’ No, he hasn’t,” Morrison said. “He’s an autocrat and he’s following through on his plans. And for all of us in the West and more broadly, I think we need to understand that autocrats don’t play by the same rules as the rest of us. Their mindset is very different.”

Morrison also called out China for its hypocrisy over Russia’s attack on Ukraine, pointing out it was insincere for Beijing to “claim” to be a major power while supporting Russia through easing wheat restrictions and avoiding condemning its actions.

The prime minister also noted however that the partnership was driven by convenience rather than strategy.

“China and Russia have got a fairly interesting history in terms of their engagement. I don’t think anything’s changed about that. But there does seem to be some alignment in the sort of world order that they would prefer, to the one that has been in place since the end of the Second World War. And we’ve seen that play out over a long time. So there has been a convenient fellow travelling, I think, and that’s how I would describe it,” he said.

Morrison also said the international community’s response to any incursion of Taiwan would be vastly different from the Ukraine situation.

His comments come in response to Beijing reinforcing relations with Moscow.

The Associated Press reported on March 8 that the Chinese communist regime’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, said China’s relations with Moscow was iron-clad and that it was “one of the most crucial bilateral relationships in the world.”

Meanwhile, Australia has announced another wave of sanctions aimed at putting pressure on the Russian military.

Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a media release on March 8 that the new range of sanctions would target the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in addition to travel bans being placed against six senior Russian military commanders responsible for implementing naval, ground, and air attacks on Ukraine.

“Australia and partners will continue to impose costs on Russia’s egregious, unlawful and completely unjustified war on Ukraine. We again call upon Russia to withdraw its military forces immediately from Ukraine,” Payne said.

Fire is seen in Mariupol at a residential area
Fire is seen in Mariupol at a residential area after shelling amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on March 3, 2022, in this image obtained from social media. (Twitter @AyBurlachenko via Reuters)

Additionally, the Australian government is placing new sanctions on those responsible for disseminating Russian disinformation aimed at legitimatising its invasion efforts with narratives such as the “de-Nazification” of Ukraine.

“Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been accompanied by a widespread disinformation campaign, both within Russia and internationally,” Payne said. “Tragically for Russia, President Putin has shut down independent voices and locked everyday Russians into a world characterised by lies and disinformation. The addition of sanctions on those responsible for this insidious tactic recognises the powerful impact that disinformation and propaganda can have in conflict.”

Victoria Kelly-Clark is an Australian based reporter who focuses on national politics and the geopolitical environment in the Asia-pacific region, the Middle East and Central Asia.