Category: Politics

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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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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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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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Ukraine, Russia and China behind Antony Blinken’s flying visit to South Pacific

International analyst Geoffrey Miller explains the significance of Antony Blinken’s whistle-stop tour of the region With the Ukraine-Russia crisis escalating by the day, it might seem a little odd that the US Secretary of State spent his weekend flying around the Pacific. New Zealand was left off an itinerary that included Australia and Fiji, but only because of the current Covid-19 border restrictions. Foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta received a phone call from Antony Blinken on Saturday instead. The State Department later said the pair discussed the “collective challenges of the Indo-Pacific” and “their shared commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial...

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How should New Zealand respond to the Ukraine-Russia crisis?

International analyst Geoffrey Miller examines New Zealand’s positioning amidst tensions between Russia, Ukraine and the West New Zealand’s initial response to a potential invasion of Ukraine by Russia is becoming clearer. Russia has positioned around 100,000 troops stationed close to Ukraine’s borders and the US says that Russia now has the capability to invade if it chooses to do so. Russia denies it has any such plans. New Zealand’s foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta issued a written statement to media last week that said “we call on Russia to act in a manner consistent with international law and to take immediate...

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China strategy dominates New Zealand’s foreign policy year

Ambiguity and contradiction over China have been hallmarks of New Zealand’s foreign policy throughout 2021. In this respect, the Government’s hawkish new defence assessment, coupled with conflicting comments by ministers about New Zealand’s view on a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, was a fitting end to the year. The assessment, released on Wednesday, bluntly called out China as “seeking to reshape the international system”. In tone and in substance, the document comfortably put New Zealand on the same page as the Australia and the US. But comments made the same day by deputy Prime Minister Grant...

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Decoding Nanaia Mahuta’s first foreign trip

International analyst Geoffrey Miller examines Nanaia Mahuta’s first travel abroad as foreign minister Nanaia Mahuta’s first foreign trip is finally underway. New Zealand’s foreign minister began a seven-country tour of Australia, Singapore, Indonesia, the UAE, Qatar, the US and Canada on Thursday. Mahuta was appointed foreign minister a year ago this month. New Zealand’s specific elimination approach to Covid-19, with isolation requirements for returning travellers, explains some of the delay – especially in the period before vaccines became widely available. Still, Damien O’Connor, the trade minister, managed to make his first foreign trip five months ago – to Europe in...

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New Zealand’s APEC moment is virtually here

International analyst Geoffrey Miller looks ahead to the opportunities and challenges for New Zealand’s hosting of APEC Leaders’ Week New Zealand’s hosting of APEC Leaders’ Week is about to begin. Were it not for Covid-19, the week would be a once-in-a-generation, high-profile opportunity for New Zealand to showcase itself to 20 visiting leaders from around the Pacific Rim. APEC’s 21 member economies account for 38% of the world’s population and over 60% of its GDP. China, Japan, Russia and the United States are among the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s political and economic heavyweights. New Zealand’s last hosting of APEC, in...

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Geopolitics behind NZ-UK free trade deal

International analyst Geoffrey Miller explains why the free trade agreement between New Zealand and the United Kingdom is not just about building back butter The new Aukus defence pact between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States will go down as one of this year’s biggest foreign policy surprises. By contrast, only the exact timing of the announcement of a free trade agreement (FTA) between New Zealand and the United Kingdom was uncertain. The UK signed a particularly generous agreement with Australia in June, and New Zealand’s diplomats were clearly expecting to secure a very similar deal. Given that...

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