Greens co-leader Marama Davidson suggests using 'our good relationship' with China to try and rein in Russia

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson has suggested using "our good relationship" with China to try and rein in Russia as it invades Ukraine. 

Davidson made the comments while speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, when asked if she felt New Zealand's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine was strong enough. 

New Zealand has imposed travel bans on Russians associated with the invasion, prohibited the export of all goods intended for use by the Russian military and security forces, and suspended bilateral engagement until further notice.

But Davidson does not think the Government has done enough. 

"No," she told the Nation. "We can go further and actually be proactive in building global community consensus for peacebuilding on all sides."

New Zealand was the first Western nation to land a free trade deal with China, and Davidson suggested the Government use its "good relationship" to try and persuade the Chinese to speak out against Russia. 

"It actually means leaning into our foreign partnerships and relationship that we have, including with China, who are a massive influence on Russia, that actually says, well, we've got a good relationship," Davidson said. 

"This is actually the exact time that we should be working with the big states."

Davidson's comments reflect those of Green Party foreign affairs spokesperson Golriz Ghahraman, who on Twitter urged the Government to be a mediator for peace. 

"Thinking of the Ukrainian people under bombardment - in particular the Rainbow community facing violence to come," Ghahraman said. "NZ must actively mediate for peace rather than passively condemn."

China and Russia have grown closer in recent months, evident by the joint statement released earlier in February by Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, saying that there were no forbidden areas of cooperation between them. 

But China has so far refused to condemn Russia's attack on Ukraine. China's Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs Hua Chunying called for parties to "exercise restraint" and accused the United States of "fueling fire" in the tensions.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison has lashed out at China for allowing unrestricted imports of Russian wheat as part of a package of deals made when Putin visited Beijing in early February.

Morrison described the cooperation between China and Russia as "unacceptable" given the unfolding invasion. 

"China seeks to play a positive role in world affairs. They say they seek peace and I welcome those sentiments," Morrison said in Adelaide on Friday. "But you don't go and throw a lifeline to Russia in the middle of a period when they are invading another country."

Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping announced 'no limits friendship' in early February 2022.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping announced 'no limits friendship' in early February 2022. Photo credit: Getty Images

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, speaking to Newshub Nation, said she would not assume China's position on the invasion

"I would caution about us making large assumptions at this point and I think the most important thing that we can continue to do is encourage diplomatic engagement and discussions that ensure that we don't see any further escalation with Russia," Ardern said. 

"This was totally avoidable. Totally. And so any loss of life that we see from this point forward must squarely sit on the shoulders of Russia choosing to take this action."

Because Ukraine is not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) - an intergovernmental military alliance between 28 European countries and the United States and Canada - it must fight the battle alone. 

But the United States and Britain are excluding major Russian banks from their financial systems in response. 

US President Joe Biden has sanctioned Russian banks that hold around US$1 trillion in assets. It includes VTB, the second largest bank in Russia, which has US$250 billion in assets. 

Britain, meanwhile, has banned Russia's national airline Aeroflot from landing, and imposed a limit on deposits Russians can make into UK bank accounts. Russia responded by shutting its airspace to the UK. 

The European Union has agreed to freeze any European assets of Putin and his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as Ukraine's leader Volodymyr Zelenskyy pleaded for faster and more forceful sanctions to punish Russia's invasion of his country.

Ghahraman says it is often civilians who pay the price for sanctions. She said they "most often hurt ordinary people more than the likes of Putin". 

Hundreds have been arrested in anti-war protests in Russia. According to independent monitor OVD-Info, nearly 1400 people were detained by Russian police on Thursday across 51 cities. 

Ghahraman wrote on Twitter: "Russians are out protesting this war right now at the risk of death and torture."

While the sanctions against Russia - a major energy supplier - will no doubt have a global impact, Energy Minister Megan Woods confirmed on Friday that New Zealand has fuel security. 

"New Zealand does not purchase any oil or oil products from Russia so would not be directly affected if Russian oil supply is curtailed."

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