Australia will not ban Russian tourists from entering the country under sanctions imposed on Russia over the war in Ukraine, Defense Minister Richard Marles said on Sunday.
Since the start of the conflict, Australia has sanctioned hundreds of Russian individuals and entities, including most of Russia’s banking sector and all organizations responsible for the country’s sovereign debt.
It has also supplied defense equipment and humanitarian supplies to Ukraine, while outlawing the export of alumina and aluminum ores, including bauxite, to Russia.
Asked whether Australia would also ban Russian tourists, Marles said the sanctions were aimed at Russia’s government, “not the Russian people themselves.”
“It’s not something we’re considering at the moment,” he told ABC television.
Marles declined to look into whether Australia would provide Ukraine with more Bushmasters and other protected vehicles, following a recent request by the Ukrainian ambassador to Australia.
Describing Australia as “one of Ukraine’s largest non-NATO military supports”, Marles said, “We will see how we can provide that continued support.”
Also on Sunday, Marles said Australia’s agreement with the United States and Britain to build nuclear-powered submarines under an alliance called AUKUS remained “on track”.
Australia in June signed a 555 million euro agreement with French military shipyard Naval Group, scrapping a multi-billion dollar conventional submarine deal in favor of a nuclear-powered sub in 2021 via AUKUS.
“We are confident that we will be able to make an announcement about which submarine in the first half of next year,” Marles said, adding that it is important that the submarine acquisition process be carried out by “the United States and the United Kingdom.”
“Both countries are working closely with us to help us realize this potential,” he said.