He indicated that Australia was “working towards stronger sanctions” against Russia. Abbott said: “I didn’t want to change the level of our sanctions while we had personnel on the ground within 20 or 30km of the Russian border but now that our personnel have withdrawn from the site [of the MH 17 crash in Ukraine], you will find increased sanctions by Australia.”
The Australian prime minister said, “The way to avoid increased sanctions is for Russia to call off what appears to be in preparation, for Russia to respect the independence of Ukraine, to stop interfering in the affairs of Ukraine, to stop supporting separatists in Ukraine, to stop arming separatists in Ukraine.”
On Thursday, August 7, in response to the West’s sanctions, Russia imposed a ban on imports of beef, pork, fruit and vegetables, poultry, fish cheeses, milk and dairy products from countries of the European Union, from Australia, Canada, Norway and the United States. The banned imports’ annual volume is worth $9.1 billion US (according to Russian Federal Customs Service data for 2013). The ban will most of all affect the European Union countries, which have been supplying to the Russian market products from the sanction list worth $6.5 billion US. Russia’s imports from other counties have been many times lower: from Norway that is not EU member - worth $1.2 billion US, from the United States - 843.8 million dollars, from Canada - 373.6 million dollars and from Australia - 182 million dollars.
Australia on June 19 introduced sanctions against 50 citizens of Russia and Ukraine and 11 companies.