Canberra, February 23: Australia is taking immediate action to sanction Russian individuals, organizations, and banks as part of the international effort to impose a sharp cost on Russia for its "unprovoked aggression" against Ukraine, the Scott Morrison government announced on Wednesday.

This comes after Russia recognized Ukraine's breakaway regions - Donetsk and Luhansk - as independent entities. This move has led to severe backlash from the international community.

On Sunday, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed decrees recognizing the independence of the DPR and LPR. Under new treaties, Moscow will ensure the security of the two Russian-speaking republics. Russia-Ukraine Conflict: Ukrainian Government Announces Nationwide State of Emergency.

"Under a first phase, we will impose travel bans and targeted financial sanctions on eight members of Russia's Security Council. The Council bears responsibility for the current phase of the invasion by providing policy advice and justification to President Putin's unilateral declaration recognising the so-called Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic," the Morrison government said in a statement.

Targeted financial sanctions will mean Australian individuals and entities cannot do business with the banks including Rossiya Bank, Promsvyazbank, IS Bank, Genbank and the Black Sea Bank for Development and Reconstruction. "This is in addition to restrictions on Australians investing in the state development bank VEB," the statement added. Russia-Ukraine Conflict: US President Joe Biden Announces New Sanctions Against Russia, Calls Vladimir Putin's Moves in Eastern Ukraine 'beginning of Russian Invasion'.

The Australian Prime Minister said the country will amend the Autonomous Sanctions Regulations 2011 to extend existing sanctions that apply to Crimea and Sevastopol to Donetsk and Luhansk. "This will impose strong economic sanctions in the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk prohibiting trade in the transport, energy, telecommunications, and oil, gas and minerals sectors."

Morrison said his country will also amend the Regulations to significantly broaden the scope of people and entities that Australia can list for sanctions to include those of "strategic and economic significance to Russia".

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