Prime Minister John Key says free trade talks with Russia
are likely to be put on hold because of Russia's actions in
Mr Key said Trade Minister Tim Groser had been in Moscow
holding trade talks over the weekend, but the Government had
decided he should leave today rather than hold any further
The trade talks have been underway for the past three years,
and an agreement was expected to be signed very soon.
Mr Key said New Zealand condemned Russia's actions in
Ukraine, and the next few weeks would determine whether the
timeline for the agreement would be affected.
"I don't think this is the right time to be signing an FTA."
Mr Key said he hoped it would not completely kill off the
"But that will depend on the outcomes of the next three
Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully said the Russian
Ambassador had been called in to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs and Trade this afternoon over the escalation of
tensions in Ukraine.
"On my instructions the Russian Ambassador has been called in
to the Ministry to hear directly New Zealand's views on the
situation", he said.
"New Zealand is deeply alarmed at the escalation of tensions
in Ukraine over recent days and we condemn the breach of
Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
"We understand Russia has significant interests especially in
the Crimean Peninsula, however they need to pursue these
interests in a manner that is consistent with Russia's treaty
obligations, international law and accepted international
"New Zealand calls on the Russian Government to take steps to
reduce tensions and to engage in consultations with other
affected parties to achieve this objective," McCully said
- Adam Bennett and Claire Trevett of the NZ Herald