Jacinda Ardern, MPs and spy chiefs banned from entering Russia as New Zealand, Australia blacklisted over sanctions

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern - along with all MPs, spy chiefs and Defence Force leaders - has been banned from entering Russia in retaliation for sanctions.

The blacklist, according to credible international media reporting by AFP, includes Ardern, Governor-General Dame Cindy Kiro, and each of the Parliament's 120 MPs - including House Speaker Trevor Mallard.

New Zealand's spy chiefs are listed: Security Intelligence Agency (NZSIS) Director-General Rebecca Kitteridge and Government Security Communications Bureau (GCSB) Director-General Andrew Hampton. 

It also includes Defence Secretary Andrew Bridgman, Defence Force Chief Air Marshal Kevin Short, Vice Chief Air Vice-Marshal Tony Davies, and the commanders of the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Joint Forces Command: John Boswell, Andrew Clark, David Proctor, and Jim Gilmour.

"Wellington's willingness, forgetting his own interests and general decency, to follow a Russophobic line, once again testifies to its foreign policy's lack of independence and servility" towards the West, Russia's Foreign Ministry purportedly said in a statement, published by international media. 

In total, 130 people in New Zealand have been blacklisted by Russia's Foreign Ministry over "hostile actions", according to reports. 

But New Zealand is not alone. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison is also banned from entering Russia, along with 228 others in Australia. Russia, in the published statement, accused Australia of having "docilely followed" other Western countries.

"In the near future, new announcements will expand the sanctions 'blacklist' to include Australian military, business people, experts and journalists who are helping to incite a negative attitude towards our country."

What is Russia responding to?

The Government earlier this week slapped Russian goods with a 35 percent import tax over alleged war "atrocities" committed in Ukraine. 

Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta said the new sanctions were a response to alleged war crimes committed by Russia in the Ukrainian town of Bucha just outside the capital Kyiv, where a mass grave was discovered a month after the area was taken over by Russian troops. 

"The images and reports emerging of atrocities committed against civilians in Bucha and other regions of Ukraine are abhorrent and reprehensible, and New Zealand continues to respond to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's mindless acts of aggression," Mahuta said. 

The Kremlin rejected accusations that Russian forces were responsible for killing civilians in Bucha, suggesting images of corpses lining the streets were "fakes".

Alongside 41 other countries, New Zealand has announced its support for the International Criminal Court's investigation into war crimes committed by Russia, and has provided funding to the investigation.

"Our response to the war in Ukraine is the most significant response to an international crisis we've undertaken as a nation in recent history - including rolling out targeted legislation," Mahuta said. 

"We continue to work at pace and expect to roll out further measures under the Russia Sanctions Act to support Ukraine and stop those associated with Russia's forced aggression."

The Russia Sanctions Act gave the Government power to freeze the assets of Russian President Vladimir Putin and 12 members of his Security Council, as well as prohibit their vessels and aircraft. The law also banned certain people and companies from moving their money and assets to New Zealand to escape sanctions imposed by other countries. 

Are our sanctions enough?

National's foreign spokesperson Gerry Brownlee on Tuesday described the sanctions so far as ineffective, because of the 488 individuals sanctioned, only 49 have been subject to asset freezes, while 439 are only subject to travel bans.

"Almost four weeks after Parliament passed the Russia Sanctions Act, the second tranche of sanctions announced by the Government will be disappointing to our Ukrainian community and international partners," Brownlee said. 

"Entities like the biggest Russian banks and financial service providers are noticeably absent. New Zealand has sanctioned only one bank, Promsvyazbank, under the Act and it's not even Russia's largest."

But Ardern said she heard otherwise from Ukraine. 

"They pointed out that New Zealand's response has been swift, that they count us amongst those countries that have taken action, that have made our views clear and have acted on them and that is, I think, really meaningful when those in Ukraine are reflecting that."

Last week the Government dispatched nine Defence Force analysts to Britain and Belgium to assist with the response to Russia's full-scale invasion of Ukraine, which began on February 24. 

The Defence Force will also help European partners by gathering intelligence about the war during their nighttime hours, "taking advantage of the time zone difference". 

The Government announced a $5 million donation to NATO [the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation] for non-lethal military aid to support Ukraine. It would be primarily directed to the NATO Trust Fund which provides fuel, military rations, communications and military first aid kits to support Ukraine. 

The Defence Force also provided 1066 body armour plates to the Ukrainian forces, along with 473 helmets and 571 camouflage vests. 

New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra announced plans last month to pull business from Russia after more than 40 years in the country over the Ukraine invasion.