UK targets Russian oligarchs, politicians and ‘propagandists’ in fresh sanctions

Liz Truss said the country was going ‘further and faster than ever in hitting those closest to Putin’.

15 March 2022

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has pledged to continue to hit hard those close to Vladimir Putin for their “complicity in Russia’s crimes in Ukraine” as she announced a fresh round of sanctions aimed at those linked to the Kremlin.

More than 300 new listings have been made under the UK’s sanctions regimes, targeting those well-connected with Russia’s leader.

An update to the Gov.uk website on Tuesday said that 350 new listings had been made under the Russia sanctions regime.

The Foreign Office later said Ms Truss was to announce more than 370 “Russian and Belarussian sanctions”, bringing the total number of individuals, entities, and subsidiaries put under strict measures to over 1,000 since the invasion of Ukraine began.

It is understood the new additions will bring the UK in line with restrictive measures already announced by the European Union and by other allies.

The list of those sanctioned has been expanded to include a further 51 Russian oligarchs and their families, plus a raft of politicians and “propagandists”.

These include Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and former President of Russia Dmitry Medvedev.

Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov and Russian Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Maria Zakharova are also on the list, as is internet ‘troll farm’, the Internet Research Agency.

Russian oligarchs now subject to UK sanctions include Mikhail Fridman, Pyotr Aven, and German Khan. The Foreign Office said the oligarchs sanctioned on Tuesday have a combined estimated worth of more than £100 billion.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said: “We are going further and faster than ever in hitting those closest to Putin – from major oligarchs, to his Prime Minister, and the propagandists who peddle his lies and disinformation. We are holding them to account for their complicity in Russia’s crimes in Ukraine.

“Working closely with our allies, we will keep increasing the pressure on Putin and cut off funding for the Russian war machine.”

Earlier, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he welcomed Western sanctions but they “are not enough” to end the Russian aggression, calling for a full trade embargo.

Boris Johnson, who was hosting a meeting of the Joint Expeditionary Force nations in London which was addressed by Mr Zelensky via video-link, said: “I hear your point very loud and clear about the economic sanctions that we need to tighten, where we need to go harder on the banks, on Swift.”

Further general economic sanctions were also announced on Tuesday, with the export of high-end luxury products to Russia being banned and import tariffs hiked on hundreds of goods, including vodka.

But Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesperson Layla Moran said: “This is shutting the door after the private jet has bolted. The Government has finally got their act together – but we should have been in this position weeks ago. This delay has given Putin’s cronies a priceless window to fire-sale their assets.

Cabinet Meeting
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss leaves 10 Downing Street following the weekly Cabinet meeting (James Manning/PA)

“Now we need to go further. There are still too many associates of Putin getting away with it as we speak.

“The fix to sanctions legislation is good news – but it means we can merely copy what our allies do. Liz Truss should bring proposals to Parliament to strengthen the legislation even further, so we can truly lead the way in clamping down on Kremlin-linked oligarchs.”

It comes as the Home Office said 4,600 visas had been issued so far under the Ukraine Family Scheme, while nearly 90,000 British households had put themselves forward to take in Ukrainian refugees.

Some 88,712 households had registered for the Homes for Ukraine scheme by Tuesday morning, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said.

Earlier, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said he was “actually quite proud” the website allowing Britons to volunteer had crashed within the first few minutes of going live on Monday.

He said he was “glad the website crashed, because it is a reflection of that generosity of the British people”.

No 10 said it would “encourage” those willing to provide accommodation to fleeing Ukrainians to offer longer than the minimum stipulation of six months. But Downing Street said most refugees would “want to return home as soon as possible”.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “The Ukrainian ambassador to London, the Ukrainian government has been clear that the vast majority of those forced to flee will want to return home as soon as possible, so at this stage it is hard to predict what length of time people may want to stay.”

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