Foreign Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta hasn't directly spoken with NZ's Ambassador to Russia since Ukraine invasion began

The Foreign Affairs Minister has had no direct communication with New Zealand's Ambassador to Russia or our Embassy in Moscow since the Ukraine invasion began.

But she has said communications are normally through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. 

National's Gerry Brownlee asked Nanaia Mahuta in a Written Parliamentary Question what communication she has had with either the Ambassador or the Embassy since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

"I have not communicated directly with the New Zealand Ambassador or Embassy in Russia since Russia's invasion of Ukraine," Mahuta replied last week.

"Such communications would normally be with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade."

Brownlee, National's foreign affairs spokesperson and a former Foreign Affairs Minister, said the lack of communication between Mahuta and the embassy "makes no sense".

"In this day and age, communications are pretty easy," he told Newshub. "While there might be a timezone thing, everyone is putting up with that through the Zoom age we live in. It is pretty easy to pick up a phone."

Former Foreign Affairs Minister Winston Peters is also shocked. He told Newshub the minister should be making contact with the embassy given the magnitude of the events taking place there. 

"It is utterly extraordinary… for there to be no contact in such a critical time with the invasion, especially when those at the embassy and those of other nation’s embassies are suffering for 'not being on the right side' in the Kremlin’s eyes."

Newshub has contacted MFAT for comment.

New Zealand's Ambassador to Russia is Sarah Walsh, a career diplomat appointed to the role in November last year. 

Since the invasion began, Mahuta has said one of the Government's considerations for not expelling the Russian Ambassador to New Zealand is that Moscow could retaliate and kick out our own representative.

"We also have people still in Russia who require our support or consular support; so we have to weigh all those things up as we take next steps," Mahuta said in March.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern reiterated that in April.  

"When it comes to expelling ambassadors, that also means that you lose your representation in those countries," she said.

But the Government didn't rule out an expulsion in the future.

Brownlee is now questioning the point of having the Kiwi Ambassador in Moscow and believes she should be brought home and the Russian Ambassador in Wellington expelled. 

That's something Brownlee has been calling for since the start of the conflict in Ukraine. 

"The Russian regime speak, acts, and does on behalf of the people of the country, and if you look at the diplomats that are here, those people are direct servants of Vladimir Putin and his regime," he told Parliament in March.

"For them to make any statement outside of total commitment to the actions that are currently being taken in the Ukraine is unthinkable. And so they should not be here. They should have been asked to remove themselves."