The Australian government has won a major victory in preventing the construction of a new embassy near the Australian parliament. The country’s high court upheld the government’s decision to seize the land, citing concerns over potential espionage activities targeting lawmakers.
Australian intelligence agencies had previously warned against allowing Russia to establish a new embassy in Canberra, as it could pose a significant security threat. Last week, Russia attempted to secure an injunction to maintain control of the disputed land while a legal battle ensued. In an unexpected move, a mystery Russian diplomat was dispatched to occupy the site during this period.
However, the high court ruled on Monday morning that Russia must vacate the premises until further legal arguments are presented. Shortly after the verdict, the squatter-diplomat was seen leaving the site and was swiftly whisked away in a diplomatic vehicle.
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese addressed the media following the court’s decision, stating, “The court has unequivocally affirmed that there is no legal basis for a Russian presence to continue on the site at this time. We expect the Russian Federation to respect the ruling and comply accordingly.”
Russia initially acquired the lease to the land from the Australian government in 2008, and approval to construct a new embassy was granted in 2011. However, last week, the Australian government announced the termination of the agreement. To prevent a Russian embassy from being built only 400 meters away from the parliamentary precinct, specific legislation was passed by the Australian parliament.
“The government has received explicit security advice regarding the risk posed by a new Russian presence in such close proximity to Parliament House,” Prime Minister Albanese explained. “We are taking swift action to ensure that the leased site does not become an established diplomatic facility.”
In addition to the legal victory, Prime Minister Albanese also announced a military assistance package for Ukraine on Monday. The aid includes 28 M113 armored personnel carriers and an undisclosed amount of 105mm howitzer rounds. Albanese emphasized Australia’s support for international efforts aimed at countering Russian aggression and ensuring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
However, the military assistance package does not include the requested Hawkei light armored patrol vehicles or additional Bushmaster infantry vehicles that Ukraine had sought.
With the legal dispute resolved for now, Australia remains steadfast in its commitment to safeguarding national security interests and supporting countries affected by geopolitical tensions in the region.