As the situation on the Russia-Ukraine border deteriorates rapidly, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison urged China not to remain “chillingly silent” on the crisis. Reuters reported that China had criticized the U.S., Australian, Japanese, and Indian foreign ministers for meeting in Melbourne last week.

Morrison told a news conference, “The Chinese government is happy to criticize Australia … yet remains chillingly silent on Russian troops massing on the Ukrainian border.

“The coalition of autocracies that we are seeing, seeking to bully other countries, is not something that Australia ever takes a light position on.”

In a Quad meeting between U.S., Australian, Japanese, and Indian foreign ministers in Melbourne last week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Quad’s mission is “standing up for a rules-based order,” according to the Australian Broadcasting Commission. But, he added, “making sure that we uphold those rules and principles if they’re being challenged,” in a veiled allusion to China. However, he did not specifically mention Beijing.

The relationship between Australia and China, its leading trade partner, deteriorated after Canberra barred Huawei Technologies from its 5G broadband network in 2018, reinforced laws against foreign political meddling and called for an independent inquiry into the origins of COVID-19. 

In a statement on Sunday, Feb. 13, Australia’s foreign affairs minister, Marise Payne, said that Australia’s diplomatic staff in Kyiv has been transferred to a temporary office in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine.

Payne said, “We continue to advise Australians to leave Ukraine immediately by commercial means.”

“I want to send a very clear message on behalf of Australia … that the autocratic, unilateral actions of Russia, to be threatening and bullying Ukraine, is something that is completely and utterly unacceptable.”

After Moscow strengthened its response to Western diplomacy, Washington warned that Russia had massed enough soldiers near Ukraine to conduct a military invasion.

Previously, Canada, the U.S., Japan, Latvia, Norway, the Netherlands, and New Zealand also told their citizens to leave Ukraine immediately.

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