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Building a strong UK economy can help fight international aggression, Sunak says

The Government promised to announce significant further sanctions later on Thursday.

24 February 2022

The UK must build a strong economy so it can invest in defence and project its values around the world, the Chancellor has said as Russia invaded Ukraine.

Ahead of the Prime Minister’s announcement on promised further sanctions against the Kremlin, Rishi Sunak said that the UK’s economic growth can help in similar future situations.

“Hope and opportunity should not just be the preserve of the citizens of the United Kingdom,” he said at the annual Mais Lecture at Bayes Business School.

Speaking as Russian jets were flying over Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, the Chancellor said: “As the situation develops in Ukraine, this moment reveals something about the UK’s global role.

“The basis of our influence in the world and ability to be a force for good is going to be in large part based on the strength of our economy.

“That economic strength gives us the resources to both invest more in defence and come to the aid of countries that need our assistance.

“It gives us the ability to increase the security of our energy supply, it gives us the diplomatic power to shape the rules of the international order, and when countries breach those rules: the weight to impose meaningful sanctions.

“No nation has the right to lead, to a seat at the top table.

“It must be earned.”

Ukrainians hold a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside Downing Street, central London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Ukrainians hold a protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine outside Downing Street, central London (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

Mr Sunak said that the UK plans to level “significant” further sanctions on Russia over its actions in Ukraine.

“The whole world is rightly appalled at Russia’s aggression,” he said.

“When the freedom of one democratic nation is threatened, wherever they may be in the world, democracy everywhere is challenged.

“We must apply severe economic costs to these actions and you can expect significant further sanctions to be brought forward.”

Mr Sunak said he had spoken to Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey on Thursday morning and is tracking energy markets.

“We are with Ukraine and its people at this difficult time,” he added.

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