Russia says it will consider launching a trade retaliation after Australia slapped fresh sanctions on the Kremlin for its latest incursions into eastern Ukraine.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott said on Monday afternoon that Australia would follow the European Union and the United States in imposing another round of sanctions on Russia in the wake of claims that at least 1000 Russian troops as well as tanks and other military hardware have flowed across the border in recent weeks.
"If Russian troops remain in Ukraine and if Russia persists in its attempts to break up a neighbouring country that has done it no harm, Russia risks becoming an international pariah," Mr Abbott told Parliament.
On Tuesday, Mr Abbott ramped up the rhetoric, saying Russia's bullying behaviour is "utterly reprehensible".
"It is an invasion, let's call it for what it is, it is an invasion of Ukraine," he told Macquarie Radio.
"There are large numbers of troops involved, Ukrainian regulars, Russian regulars, militias on both sides, there is artillery fire, there are tank movements, there are airstrikes - yes it's a war."
His comments come amid reports that the Defence Force will become an enhanced partner of NATO at the group's summit in Wales this week. News Corp is reporting that US President Barack Obama will name Australia an enhanced partner of the organisation. It also reports that the Abbott government is considering sending 200 special forces troops back into Afghanistan amid growing concern about the deteriorating situaion in Iraq.
The sanctions against Russia include travel bans and asset freezes on a further 63 Russian and Ukrainian individuals, taking the total to 113 – thought to be largely members of President Vladimir Putin's inner circle and close supporters. A further 21 companies will also be sanctioned, taking the total to 32.
Other sanctions include restrictions on access of Russian banks to Australian capital markets, a ban on the export of goods and services for Russian oil exploration and production and a ban on arms exports to Russia.
Australia's defence exports to Russia are typically very small, but the arms ban is being included because the sanctions are mirroring those taken out by the European Union and the United States. The unanimity stops exporters using backdoors through other countries where sanctions don't apply.
A spokesman for the Russian Embassy in Canberra, Alexander Odoevsky, said Moscow would consider retaliating, as it did about a month ago to a previous round of sanctions, by banning imports of meat and other food, prompting fury in Australia.
"The spiral of sanctions does no good to anyone," he said. "As you have seen, our patience was tested but there is a limit, so you have seen that we retaliated [last time] with sanctions which were imposed...banning food imports.
"It is clear that the new round of sanctions is a signal for us to consider the sanctions from our side as well. They will be subject to consideration and retaliation...I cannot tell you what kind...but there will be a response."
The Abbott government didn't follow the other Western nations immediately on the last round of sanctions because it was still trying to negotiate with Moscow over access to the MH17 crash site.
The government still faces a decision on banning Mr Putin attending the November G20 leaders' meeting in Brisbane.
Labor leader Bill Shorten expressly called on Friday for Mr Abbott to talk to other world leaders about a possible ban. Mr Abbott said on Friday it was "an important question and it's one that I'll be weighing".
Trade Minister Andrew Rodd said on Tuesday that Foreign Minister Julie Bishop and Defence Minister David Johnston would be "canvassing" the views of other G20 leaders in Wales.
"It's not a decision we can take unilaterally," Mr Robb told ABC radio. "I think increasingly people are taking a very concerned view about his presence. But we'll see what comes out of those discussions."
On Tuesday, Mr Shorten said while he backed the Abbott government consulting with other nations about a possible ban on Mr Putin attending the G20, he told reporters in Canberra: "I don't want to meet Putin, I've got no time for what's he's done."