National's foreign affairs spokesman Gerry Brownlee wants the Government to expel Russia's top diplomat from New Zealand and have New Zealand's ambassador recalled from Moscow.
This would be a serious and significant step. Countries only expel top diplomats following a serious and potentially irreconcilable breakdown in relations.
New Zealand previously ordered the ambassador of the Soviet Union, Vsevolod Sofinsky, to leave the country within 72 hours after he allegedly delivered money to New Zealand's pro-Soviet Socialist Unity Party.
Brownlee said the Government's "response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine so far has been seriously lacking compared to the rest of the global community".
"It's vital the world demonstrates a united front against Russian aggression, and New Zealand must play its part in that," he said.
While many other countries have not yet expelled Russia's ambassadors, countries like Australia and Ireland are said to be considering doing so. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is being urged to do so.
"When our traditional partners and allies are imposing serious economic sanctions, often at great cost to themselves, Labour's travel ban on officials and limits on diplomatic engagement are simply not good enough. It's time to stop issuing press releases and start taking action," Brownlee said.
"Expelling an ambassador is a serious diplomatic move, but it's clear that President Putin has no intention of engaging constructively through diplomatic channels. The time for diplomacy was last week," he said.
Brownlee reiterated his call for the Government to legislate an autonomous sanctions regime, which would allow New Zealand to bypass the broken United Nations sanctions process and sanction Russia.
"While our own ability to sanction Russia is hamstrung by Labour's refusal to implement an autonomous sanctions framework, we need to be using every other tool at our disposal to demonstrate to the Russian Government, the people of Ukraine and our global partners exactly where we stand," Brownlee said.
"National also reiterates our call for the Government to urgently pass autonomous sanctions legislation. I have submitted a bill that could be passed this week," he said
The Government has so far resisted the idea of autonomous sanctions, although it has not ruled it out. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday that she had sought advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and trade on what more could be done to respond to the invasion.
In 1980, New Zealand government ordered the Soviet Union's ambassador, Vsevolod Sofinsky, to leave the country within 72 hours after he allegedly delivered money to the pro-Soviet Socialist Unity Party (SUP). Sofinsky and the SUP denied the allegation, but then-Prime Minister Robert Muldoon thought there was sufficient evidence to have him leave the country.
In the aftermath of the Salisbury poisonings, New Zealand said it would have joined many other countries in expelling lower-level diplomats believed to have been spies, if not for the fact there were none then believed to be in the country.