Australia will punish both Russian individuals and entities involved in the push into Ukraine.
Australia will also follow the United States in implementing financial sanctions against the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.
Ukraine has been fighting Kremlin-backed rebels in both regions since 2014, and earlier this week Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a decree recognizing them as independent states, drawing swift condemnation from the West.
Despite widespread confusion over what is really happening on the ground, the Australian Prime Minister said “the invasion of Ukraine has indeed already begun”.
“Russia is extremely ready to carry out a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“And that is likely to happen within the next 24 hours and there are even reports already showing … things of this nature, which could indicate that it has already started,” he said.
He said Australia had “always stood up to bullies” and called the country’s recent actions “unwarranted”, “unprovoked” and “unacceptable”.
Morrison said he would continue to discuss with allies, including the United States, Britain and European countries, what additional steps could be taken.
“The Australian government will immediately begin imposing sanctions on Russian individuals in response to Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Morrison said.
“Initially, we will impose travel bans and targeted financial sanctions on members of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.
“These sanctions will significantly expand the number of people and I emphasize the entities that Australia can list for targeted financial sanctions and travel bans.”
Morrison stressed that his problem was with the Russian government and Putin – who had “forgotten what democracy is – not the Russian people themselves”.
“And I feel for the Russian people and there are a lot of Russian Australians here who I know will be very disappointed with what President Putin is doing.
“They’ll be convinced of that because that’s not what they believe their country is, that’s not what their values or their heritage are,” he said.