Tony Abbott has branded Russia’s latest actions in Ukraine an invasion and says it’s “completely, absolutely and utterly unacceptable”.
But the prime minister says Australia cannot make a unilateral decision to exclude Russian President Vladimir Putin from the G20 leaders’ summit in Brisbane in November.
NATO says at least 1000 Russian troops have crossed the Ukraine border and are now helping pro-Kremlin separatists who have been fighting against Kiev’s rule since April.
“If, as seems to have been the case, Russian armed forces have simply moved across the border, that is an invasion,” Mr Abbott told reporters in Canberra on Friday.
“And it is utterly reprehensible.
“It is an absolutely clear-cut case of a larger country bullying a smaller country and this should have no place in our world.”
Russia’s latest actions are likely to intensify calls that Mr Putin be excluded from the G20 talks.
But Mr Abbott says he is still weighing his options.
“It’s not a decision which Australia really has a right to make unilaterally,” he said.
Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said Mr Abbott and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop should now be talking to other G20 nations about the possibility of excluding Mr Putin.
“I think most Australians have grave reservations about welcoming Mr Putin to Australia,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
The government should also consider ratcheting up its sanctions against Russia, Mr Shorten said.
He echoed Mr Abbott’s comments that Russia’s latest actions were “reprehensible” and amounted to an invasion.