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Jacinda Ardern continues to forge a more US-friendly foreign policy

International analyst Geoffrey Miller reads between the lines of Jacinda Ardern’s speech to this week’s US business summit in Auckland Jacinda Ardern is slowly but surely shifting New Zealand’s foreign policy towards the West. That was the underlying theme of a keynote address by New Zealand’s Prime Minister this week. Ardern mentioned China only once by name when she spoke to the US business summit in Auckland on Monday, but Beijing was clearly on her mind throughout the 3000-word address. Some of the hardest-hitting passages came early in the speech and appeared deliberately indirect and oblique, leaving it up to...

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Jacinda Ardern’s trip to Japan and Singapore about more than just trade

International analyst Geoffrey Miller examines the motivations behind Jacinda Ardern’s first foreign trip since February 2020 – and says her tour of Japan and Singapore is about much more than trade This is far from Jacinda Ardern’s first foreign trip – but it almost feels like one. Ardern’s tour of Japan and Singapore this week is the first trip abroad by New Zealand’s Prime Minister in 781 days. Ardern has not travelled outside the country since February 2020. The Government is calling the trip a ‘trade mission’ to show that ‘New Zealand is open for business’, given the phased removal...

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Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta struggle in Ukraine lethal aid debate

International analyst Geoffrey Miller examines New Zealand’s justifications for not providing Ukraine with ‘lethal aid’ Will New Zealand provide lethal aid to Ukraine? Answering this deceptively simple question is becoming a challenge for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and her foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta. Last week’s call by Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba for the West to provide ‘weapons, weapons, weapons’ has put New Zealand’s reluctance to supply lethal aid to Ukraine in sharper focus. Kuleba’s plea came after horrific images emerged showing bodies of Ukrainian civilians killed by Russian forces in Bucha – and a day before Russia bombed a...

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Putin’s invasion of Ukraine gives New Zealand a lot to think about

New Zealand’s initial response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has been remarkably nuanced. In Parliament this week, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern again condemned Vladimir Putin’s attack in no uncertain terms – describing it as “the blatant act of a bully – brutal, intolerable, and an act of aggression.” Other party leaders largely echoed the Labour leader – with the National Party’s Christopher Luxon even describing Putin as “completely unhinged” in comments to media. The strong language and condemnation might suggest that New Zealand’s position is indistinguishable from that of other Western countries. This has certainly been an impression that Ardern...

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New Zealand’s Australia-friendly response to China-Solomon Islands security deal

International analyst Geoffrey Miller looks at how New Zealand’s positioning on the new China-Solomon Islands security pact fits into the bigger picture New Zealand’s lock-step response with Australia to a new security deal between Solomon Islands and China shows just how much has changed over the past year. In her post-cabinet press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern carefully echoed Australia’s phrasing on the new security pact between China and Solomon Islands, using the same ‘Pacific family’ and ‘our backyard’ phrasing employed by Australian officials. The Pacific family is best placed to provide security assistance to 🇸🇧. 🇦🇺 has...

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How important is New Zealand’s new military support for Ukraine?

International analyst Geoffrey Miller examines New Zealand’s new military assistance for Ukraine and asks whether more humanitarian aid could also be provided. Jacinda Ardern’s announcement of military support for Ukraine is highly symbolic. The support package includes a donation of $NZ5m to NATO’s trust fund – to spend on supplies such as fuel and food for soldiers – as well as 1066 body armour plates, 473 helmets and 571 camouflage vests. There is an understandable desire to deliver some form of tangible, material assistance to Ukrainian troops on the front lines. The new package is also a measure of the...

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Russia’s war on Ukraine puts New Zealand’s refugee policy and China strategy in sharper focus

International analyst Geoffrey Miller puts New Zealand’s new humanitarian visa policy for Ukrainians under the microscope and considers the implications of claims of a potential role for China in Russia’s war against Ukraine With the Russia Sanctions Act now in place, New Zealand this week turned its focus to humanitarian assistance for Ukrainians fleeing the war. UN figures on Monday showed that some 2.8 million refugees had left Ukraine since the war began. On Tuesday, foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta announced New Zealand would provide an additional $NZ4 million in humanitarian aid to UN agencies, while immigration minister Kris Faafoi provided...

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How significant is New Zealand’s new Russia sanctions law?

International analyst Geoffrey Miller considers the wider impact of New Zealand’s new Russia Sanctions Act A new Russia sanctions law is a turning point in New Zealand’s foreign policy. Parliament last night unanimously passed the Russia Sanctions Act. The debate in Parliament underscored just how much Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has transformed the Government’s position when it comes to sanctions. On the one hand, foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta and other Labour MPs were keen to emphasise the Russia-specific nature of the legislation – with repeated references to “targeted” in their speeches on the bill. Yet on the other hand, they...

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Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will change New Zealand’s foreign policy

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine changes everything – for the world, but also for New Zealand. The scale and sheer audacity of Vladimir Putin’s aggression leaves little room for nuance. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said today that Russia’s invasion was ‘wrong and they will face the condemnation of the world.’ Within two hours of Russia’s strike on Ukraine on Thursday, foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta issued a statement condemning it. Aotearoa New Zealand unequivocally condemns this unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russia on Ukraine. 🇳🇿 stands with the people of Ukraine 🇺🇦 and we are in close contact with international partners on...

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New Zealand’s response to Russia – sanctions or diplomacy?

International analyst Geoffrey Miller considers options for New Zealand’s response to Russia’s incursion into Ukraine Nanaia Mahuta’s visit to Europe this week gained new significance after Russia’s deployment of troops to eastern Ukraine – a development that US President Joe Biden has called “the beginning of a Russian invasion.” New Zealand’s foreign minister had just arrived in Paris to attend an EU-hosted Indo-Pacific Forum when Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that he would officially recognise the independence of Donetsk and Luhansk in Ukraine’s Donbas region. Putin later ordered ‘peacekeeping’ troops into the area. A live TV interview with Mahuta, conducted...

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