Prime Minister Tony Abbott has described Russia as a bully over its policy on Ukraine and after it introduced agricultural sanctions against Australia.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott says Australia is working towards stronger sanctions against Russia.

Mr Abbott’s statement follows Russia’s decision on Thursday to introduce an embargo on agricultural products from Australia, the European Union, the United States, Canada and others.

The countries have already imposed sanctions against Moscow over its policy in Ukraine.

Mr Abbott said he hoped Russian President Vladimir Putin would not allow his troops to cross the border into Ukraine.

If that occurred “you will find increased sanctions by Australia”, he told reporters in Sydney on Friday.

“We will be working towards strong sanctions.

“The way to avoid increased sanctions is for Russia to call off what it appears to be in preparation for.”

The Australian government had held off on any action while investigators were active in eastern Ukraine shorting through the debris of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over the Donetsk region, killing all 298 people on board including 38 Australians.

But now the mission has been largely completed.

Mr Abbott said Russia had been a “bully”.

“Russia is a big country trying to bully a small country,” he said.

If Russian troops moved into the Ukraine it would not be a humanitarian mission “it will be an invasion”.

“I say to President Putin, if he wants to be regarded as a world leader hold your forces back, stay behind the border and let the business of the Ukraine be sorted out by the Ukrainians.”