Legislation allowing Britain to hit banks, energy companies and “Kremlin-friendly oligarchs” with economic sanctions will be introduced by the government this week, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said.
The plan is the UK’s latest attempt to dissuade Russian President Vladimir Putin from launching an invasion of Ukraine.
“We are going to introduce new legislation so that we can hit targets, including those that are essential to the continuation of the Kremlin and the continuation of Russian rule,” Truss told the BBC’s Sunday Morning program.
“An invasion of Ukraine will be expensive. And we would target Russian financial institutions, we would target energy companies, we would target oligarchs close to the Kremlin,” she added.
Foreign Secretary and Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to visit Kyiv early this week, despite pressure from Downing Street over the ‘partygate’ scandal. A redacted version of Sue Gray’s report is due out on Monday.
Foreign Office sources said Britain’s existing sanctions regime allowed the UK to target only those linked to the destabilization of Ukraine; the new legislation will allow for broader targeting of the “strategic interests” of the Russian state.
Any legislation will likely need to be passed through parliament quickly as around 100,000 troops are massing in Russia and neighboring Belarus, creating what Truss described as “a real threat of invasion”.
The government has been accused of allowing Kremlin-linked money to flow easily through the City of London and, in some cases, people linked to Russia to donate to the ruling party.
Last week, the Center for American Progress, a US think tank close to President Joe Biden, warned that “rooting out Kremlin-linked oligarchs will be a challenge given the close ties between Russian money and the ruling conservative party. in the United Kingdom, the press, and its real estate and financial industry”.
The think tank proposed setting up a joint US-UK task force to “incentivize stronger action by the UK government”. Asked about the think tank report, Truss told the BBC: “We are doing more. We are introducing new legislation.
Britain, in conjunction with the United States, has stepped up its rhetoric over the Russian threat to Ukraine, with London warning a week ago of a possible coup plot. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy played down the risk, saying Kiev had faced a constant military threat from Moscow since 2014.
Russia denies it will invade, although the Kremlin has said it was unhappy with the US response last week to its security demands. Moscow wants Ukraine never to be allowed to join NATO and has demanded a wide range of troop withdrawals from former Warsaw Pact countries in Eastern Europe.
On Sunday, it emerged Britain had offered to double its numbers in Eastern Europe, where 900 lead a multinational battlegroup in Estonia and 150 in Poland, while Biden said Washington would ‘not deploy too much’. additional forces – a few thousand at most. – “Short term”.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Sunday that combat troops would not move into Ukraine in the event of a Russian invasion.
“We have no intention of deploying NATO combat troops in Ukraine,” he said, later adding: “There is a difference between being a member of NATO and being a strong and valued partner of Ukraine”.