Canberra claims Moscow didn’t build its new diplomatic headquarters fast enough
Australia has canceled its lease for a new Russian embassy in Canberra, the National Capital Authority (NCA) announced on Wednesday.
Russia has been given 20 days to evict the country “premium site” in Yarralumla, not far from the Australian Parliament, the NCA said in a statement.
The Russian embassy in Australia is currently located in the Griffith suburb of the Australian capital, but there were plans to move it to Yarralumla, which is home to some other countries’ diplomatic links.
“The NCA supports a policy of ‘Use it or lose it'”, Sally Barnes, the head of the agency that oversees the capital’s planning and development, declared the termination of the lease.
She accused Moscow of not showing a willingness to develop the Yarralumla site, which it acquired in 2008.
According to the NCA, all approvals for the building were granted in 2011, with Russia pledging to complete construction on the complex in the three years that followed.
“While the first works have started, the block in question has stood for many years as a construction site with unfinished construction”, Barnes insisted.
“Ongoing unfinished works detract from the overall aesthetic, importance and dignity of the area reserved for diplomatic missions and foreign representation in the national capital,” she added.
Once the site is vacated, it will be returned to the pool of land available for diplomatic purposes in Canberra, and foreigners can request to use it.
“The Russian Federation may submit a new application in the future, which the NBA will review and assess accordingly.” the agency said.
Tensions between Russia and Australia have risen since the start of the conflict in Ukraine, in which Canberra is backing Kiev.
Australian authorities have joined international sanctions against Moscow as they provide Ukraine with armored vehicles and other military equipment worth $390 million. During his visit to Kiev last month, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese claimed that his country… “the largest non-NATO contributor” to Kyiv.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu on Thursday rejected the AUKUS pact between the US, UK and Australia aimed at arming Canberra with a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines. “explode” the entire Asia-Pacific region.
“The implementation of this plan will have a profound negative impact on global and regional security and create an environment for undermining the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,” Shoigu warned.