The New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters has said that his country must find a way to avoid the sanctions against Russia, because he believes it has not been proven at all that Russia has been guilty of shooting down the MH17 or interfering in the US presidential elections.
Peters has been arguing for a free trade agreement with Russia, a plan which has been stalled since 2014 because of the Western sanctions against Russia following the events in Ukraine. In an interview with the Herald he said that New Zealand also has free trade agreements with countries where human rights issues are at play.
“I’m talking about trade as a separate area otherwise if we have become so judgmental and so moral about everything, we would not be trading with anybody.”
According to the minister, there is no hard evidence that the Russian government is involved in the plane crash of MH17, killing 298 people. He also doubts whether Russia has indeed manipulated the US presidential election. As long as there is no proof, Peters sees no reason to postpone talks with Russia about trade until after these investigations have been completed.
“That would be a tragic waste of time. If it was found the insinuation was not a fact, then we would have just wasted a whole lot of time not in the country’s interest.”
He added that the EU and the United Kingdom also continue to trade substantially with Russia, while the New Zealand government has been waiting for years.