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UK to impose sanctions against Russia

In front of a packed House of Commons, the Prime Minister unveiled the first in a series of sanctions against the Russian regime following their ‘invasion’ of Luhansk and Donetsk overnight.

At the dispatch box, the Prime Minister told MPs “We must now brace ourselves for the next stages of Putin’s plan” that includes the amassing of nearly 200,000 troops on the Ukrainian border.

Boris Johnson warned MPs that “unless the situation improves, the best efforts by the West to avoid conflict may be in vain.”

The Prime Minister committed the UK Government to continue to seek a diplomatic solution. He said that he “will not give up until the last moment,” but suggested that in the face of Russian aggression the diplomatic strategy may not succeed.

At the statement, Johnson said that the UK Government is to commit £100,000 million for economic reform of Ukraine and guaranteed $500 million of development finance for the country. He said that “whatever happens, Britain will not waiver.”

“We must all stand firm in support of Ukraine.”

Leader of the opposition, Sir Keir Starmer

To cheers from MPs, the Prime Minister committed “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereign integrity.”

What will the sanctions cover?

The new sanctions are to cover restrictions on five Russian banks including Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank. He also said that three high profile individuals would see their assets frozen Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg. They will also be banned from travelling to the UK.

It has been reported this lunchtime that these three Russian oligarchs have been on the US sanctions list since 2018.

Number 10 has briefed sanctions should be used wisely and at the right time. It is therefore likely that these measures are the first of a raft being prepared in Whitehall. The Government is keen to highlight that this conflict is likely to be a protracted affair.

There could be a lot more to come.

Sanctions have not gone far enough:

In a refreshing break from his predecessor, the Leader of the Opposition responded to the Prime Minister in questioning whether the sanctions have gone far enough?

Sir Keir Starmer said, “if we do not respond with a full set of sanctions now, Putin will once again take away the message that the benefits of aggression outweigh the costs”.

Russian money has been allowed to infiltrate the economy since the collapse of the USSR and MPs have called on the need to ensure UK anti money laundering policies are sufficient.

In support of the NATO alliance, Starmer told MPs, “Putin seems determined to plunge Ukraine into a wider war. We must all stand firm in support of Ukraine.

keir ukraine 002
Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer responds to the Prime Minister

“There can be no excuses for Russia’s actions. A war in Ukraine will be bloody and history will rightly frame Putin as the aggressor.”

Final Thought:

Sanctions against five banks and three Russian oligarchs that have been on the US sanction list since 2018 does not sound like the whack the Prime Minister had promised this morning.

The Government is keen to stress that the strategy is to drip feed sanctions as Russia becomes more aggressive. However, it doesn’t take a military general to realise that you need to do more than lightly slap a bear on the nose to stop its aggression.

Given the infiltration of Russian money flowing around the City of London and the lack of legislation in place, it is extremely hard for the UK Government to deliver even tougher sanctions against Russia. That is why Washington has been calling on the UK Government to clamp down on dirty Russian money flows for several months.

There may be more sanctions to come, but the Government will face criticism over its failure to act early enough to stem the flow of Russian money around the capital.

The Government should have acted weeks ago, but to make sure the landscape is prepared for further sanctions, it must act now.

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