Australia Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Friday the contested site of a proposed Russian embassy was secure, after it emerged a Russian diplomat was squatting on the land following the government’s decision to cancel the lease.
Earlier this month Australia passed a law to prevent Russia from moving its embassy from a Canberra suburb to a prime site close to parliament and the Chinese embassy, citing national security concerns.
The Australian newspaper reported on Thursday a Russian diplomat was squatting on the land under the watch of police, who are unable to arrest him as he has diplomatic immunity.
“Australia will stand up for our values and we will stand up for our national security, and a bloke standing in the cold on a bit of grass in Canberra is not a threat to our national security,” Albanese told a news conference on Friday.
“The site is secure and we are comfortable with our position.”
The Russian embassy in Canberra declined to comment.
Moscow on Wednesday barred 48 Australians from entering Russia, in what it said was retaliation for Australia’s own long-running sanctions regime against the country.