Acting Foreign Minister David Parker says sanctions show even 'little countries' have role to play in countering Russia's invasion

Acting Foreign Minister David Parker says New Zealand is doing its bit to counter Russia's invasion of Ukraine. 

Russia launched a full-scale attack on Ukraine on Thursday. The invasion drew condemnation and an outpouring of anger and disgust from the US, UK and EU countries. 

On Friday, US President Joe Biden authorised wide-ranging financial sanctions on Russia and praised New Zealand's action along with several other countries.

New Zealand has imposed a range of measures including travel bans against Russian government officials, the prohibition of exporting goods to the Russian military and the suspension of bilateral engagement with Russian foreign officials. 

Speaking with AM on Friday David Parker said even though New Zealand is a small country, it still has a part to play. 

"We do have the ability to impose sanctions and we are," he said. "Obviously the breadth of our sanctions can't be as broad as America because we don't have the same economy - our exports to Russia are under $300 million per annum and those are being addressed. 

"We are going to have a ban on exports that go to the military or support the military. In respect of the lineup of the countries internationally, it's nice to see President Biden listing New Zealand as one of the countries that stand beside all of the others, making it clear that little countries, as well as large countries, have got a role to play here."

When asked whether New Zealand's response could cause issues with our biggest trading partner China, Parker told RNZ's Morning Report: "Our dealings on this issue are more principled than that."

"This is unequivocally an act of war," he told the radio station. "Misery and death are being wrought upon the people of the Ukraine, who have done nothing to threaten Russia. So the idea that we would not act with the international community because of another trade interest is incorrect."

While China has called on all sides to de-escalate its stopped short of condemning the invasion. 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and  Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta released a joint statement late last night condemning Russia's actions. 

"New Zealand strongly condemns Russia's invasion of Ukraine and joins the international community in calling on Russia to immediately cease military operations in Ukraine," Ardern said.  

"This is an unprovoked and unnecessary attack by Russia. By choosing to pursue this entirely avoidable path, an unthinkable number of innocent lives could be lost because of Russia's decision.

"We call on Russia to do what is right and immediately cease military operations in Ukraine, and permanently withdraw to avoid a catastrophic and pointless loss of innocent life. It is through diplomacy, not unnecessary death and destruction, that all parties can find a resolution."

The Prime Minister said New Zealand has consistently expressed strong support for international efforts to de-escalate the situation. 

Mahuta said New Zealand's measures were justified given Russia has continued with its invasion. 

"They must now face the consequences," she said.