Russia has described as "unacceptable" the blame placed on it by Australia for Moscow's perceived role in the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 in July.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it deemed ‘‘unacceptable the recent allegations made by Australia that place the blame in the tragic events in Ukraine, including the crash of the Malaysian airliner on Russia”, according to an English-language report on state-backed Ria Novosti.
A separate English-language report on the state-backed Itar-Tass service went further, slamming Australian politicians' views and language surrounding the conflict in eastern Ukraine.
“On the whole, it seems that burdened by their own oversized ambitions, some members of the current Australian government have completely lost an adequate picture of the developments in Ukraine and around it,” Itar-Tass quotes the ministry statement.
“They keep making absurd statements that the humanitarian convoy to help civilians in the south-east of Ukraine can be used as a pretext for Russia’s ‘armed invasion’ of the neighbouring country,” the ministry said, in a reference to comments made by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop accusing Moscow of using a humanitarian convoy bound for Ukraine as a pretext for invasion.
Ms Bishop has also described as "petulant" trade sanctions imposed by Russia on Australian exports last week. Russia imposed the bans on agricultural products in conjunction with similiar bans on US, European Union, Canadian and Norwegian products.
“Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has gone farther than others in making irresponsible innuendoes against our country even though one would think that her position presupposes building bridges between countries, not destroying them,” the Ministry said.
In June, Australia blacklisted 50 Russian business people and 11 businesses following Moscow's annexation of what had been the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
The latest salvo from Moscow marks the increasingly fraught relationship between Russia and Australia. The Australian government pushed for a UN resolution calling for an impartial investigation into the cause of the MH17 crash, in which 298 people died, including 38 Australian citizens and residents.
The crash dragged Australia into the centre of the Ukrainian conflict, a geopolitical struggle that has pitted Russia against the West.
In 1994, Russia, Ukraine, the US and Britain signed the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances – a diplomatic document in which the signatories made promises to each other to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity as an independent state. The promises came in exchange for Kiev's agreement to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty and its transfer of its nuclear weapon stockpile to Russia for disposal.