Russia suffers legal setback in Australian embassy standoff

26 June, 2023 | Malvika Vardhan

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Russia 's bid to build a new embassy near Australia s parliament suffered a legal blow on Monday, when the country s highest court denied a request for temporary protection against eviction.

Australia has blocked Russia from building a new embassy in Canberra after intelligence agencies warned it could be used as a base to spy on lawmakers.
Last week, Russia filed a last-minute injunction to keep the land, while sending a mystery diplomat to reside there while the legal battle played out.

However, Australia’s top court ordered on Monday that Russia must remove the site, at least until the issue is heard again in court for more extensive legal arguments.

Soon after the verdict, the squatter diplomat was observed leaving the scene before being taken away in a diplomatic vehicle.

“The court has made clear that there is no legal basis for a Russian presence to continue on the site at this time,” Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told reporters. “We expect the Russian Federation to act in accordance with the court’s ruling.”
Russia purchased the land from the Australian government in 2008 and received permission to establish its new embassy there in 2011. But the Australian government announced last week it was tearing up that agreement.

The Australian parliament enacted legislation to prevent a Russian embassy from being built on the site, which is approximately 400 meters (440 yards) from the parliamentary area.
“The government has received very clear security advice as to the risk posed 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.”

Albanese also announced a new batch of military aid for Ukraine on Monday, comprising 28 M113 armored personnel carriers and an unspecified number of 105mm howitzer rounds.

“We support international efforts to ensure Putin’s aggression fails and that Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity prevails,” Albanese said.

The package did not include Hawkei light armored patrol vehicles or more Bushmaster infantry vehicles — both of which Ukraine had requested.