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NZ mocked by global media over Ardern’s comments on Russian Spies

28/03/2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s statement that New Zealand is not home to any Russian spies is being met with scepticism, and scoffing, internationally.

International media have poked fun at New Zealand over the statement.

The Guardian’s headline reads: “New Zealand says it would expel Russian spies … but it can’t find any”.

The French news agency AFP writes: “New Zealand can’t find any Russian spies to expel.”

The Telegraph has a headline in a similar vein.

Security analyst Paul Buchanan said Ms Ardern’s remarks were disingenous, and he told Morning Report it had made New Zealand “a laughing stock”.

“You mentioned The Guardian headline … there’s dozens of headlines along those lines.

“There seems to be some mincing of words here on the part of the PM in order to wriggle out of what many think is the responsibility to join our allies in this solidarity action.”

Not all the people kicked out by the other countries were spies, some were regular diplomats, he said.

“This is mostly about repudiating Russia’s actions abroad, so it’s symbolic, you could recall the expelled people within two to three months.”

Yesterday, Ms Ardern said her advice about there not being Russian spies came from the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Trade, but Dr Buchanan said it is the SIS that provides such information.

Was it MFAT that advised Ardern or Winston Peters?

Frankly, yet again Ardern is revealed as naive and in addition we are seen as out of step with those countries we would normally see as our closest allies. Many countries will now be wondering if NZ is a reliable ally.

Far from punching above our weight diplomatically we will now be seen as vacillating weaklings. Another element of NZ’s reputation shredded by Ardern and Peters.

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