Australia to stop Russia from building new embassy

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Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Thursday that he would introduce a bill to terminate the lease agreement for a plot of land in Canberra where Russia plans to build a new embassy building.

“The government has received very clear security advice as to the risk presented by a new Russian presence so close to Parliament House,” Albanese said.

“We are acting quickly to ensure the lease site does not become a formal diplomatic presence.”

The PM added that he expected the legislation to pass both houses of the country’s parliament, the House of Representatives and the Senate, later on Thursday.

Home Affairs Minister Clare O’Neil also argued that “the principal problem” with the proposed building was its location.

In 2022, Australia’s National Capital Authority (NCA) decided to revoke Russia’s lease on a plot in the suburb of Yarralumla, which sits 500 meters from Parliament House. However, the Federal Court of Australia ruled late last month that the move was “invalid and of no effect,” barring the government from stopping the Russian government’s “quiet enjoyment of the land.”

The Russian Embassy in Australia described the decision to terminate the lease at the time as “an unprecedented and very unfriendly move.” 

Several Western countries have expelled Russian diplomats or moved to seize buildings used by Russian missions abroad in response to Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine that was launched in February 2022. Russia has argued that such practice was illegal.

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