Australia Tells Russia to Clear Out of Embassy Site

Australia Tells Russia to Clear Out of Embassy Site
A general view of Australian Parliament House on August 14, 2021 in Canberra, Australia. (Gary Ramage/Getty Images)

Authorities in Australia have told the Russian government it has 20 days to vacate the site of its Embassy after failing to finish construction within the designated timeframe.

Originally leased in 2008 from the National Capital Authority (NCA), which manages the diplomatic precinct in Australia’s capital of Canberra, the Russian government agreed to complete construction three years after building approvals were granted.

Sally Barnes, CEO of the NCA, said in a media release (pdf) that block granted to the Russian Embassy was a premium site located in central Canberra, close to Lake Burley Griffin and the Australian Parliament House. However, the NCA said ongoing, unfinished work on the site detracted from the “overall aesthetic, importance and dignity of the area.”
Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Canberra, Australia, on April 1, 2022. (Daniel Teng/The Epoch Times)
Embassy of the Republic of Korea in Canberra, Australia, on April 1, 2022. (Daniel Teng/The Epoch Times)

“With limited blocks currently available for diplomatic purposes, unless a country can demonstrate a willingness and ability to develop the site, the NCA supports a policy of ‘Use it or lose it,’” she said.

“While initial works have commenced, the block in question has been sitting as a building site with unfinished construction for many years now.”

Barnes noted that the NCA had sought regular consultation with Russian representatives over the years but concluded there was no commitment to finish the build, leading to the decision to terminate the lease.

“The Russian Federation has 20 days from the day the notice of termination was served to clear the site,” the NCA said.

The NCA also noted that the decision does not affect the current operations of the Russian Embassy, which remains open in another location.

Decision Welcomed by Ukrainian and Australian Officials

The decision to terminate the lease has been welcomed by both Ukrainian officials and Australian politicians, with the Ukrainian Ambassador Vasyl Myroshnychenko saying it was great news in a Twitter post.

“Great news on the termination of lease for the new Russian Embassy in Canberra. As Russians continue raping and murdering Ukrainians, they don’t deserve living a normal life in any Western country or let alone visiting as tourists,” the ambassador commented.

Additionally, the former Minister for Trade, Simon Birmingham, said in a post on Twitter that Russia should not expect any favours from Australia.

“Russia deserves no favours from Australia or any nation given President Putin’s disregard for international law, territorial sovereignty or human life. This is an entirely appropriate enforcement of lease terms by the NCA, following all proper processes by Australia,” he said.

Russia Criticises Australia for Role in AUKUS Alliance

The cancellation of the lease comes after the Deputy Secretary of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ivan Nechaev, panned the AUKUS alliance calling the United Kingdom and Australia side-kicks of the United States.
The criticism was then published by the Russian ministry on its official Twitter page on Aug. 12 alongside a statement that said: “The #AUKUS military alliance of Australia, the UK and the US is yet another attempt by Washington to dominate #AsiaPacific region, exerting sole control over maritime routes, trade routes, economic, military, scientific, technical and other cooperation.”
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.
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