More sanctions against Russia soon, warns UK

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Britain has joined international allies to take action after Putin ordered troops to be sent into two Ukrainian regions held by Russian-backed separatists, reports Asian Lite News

The government on Wednesday warned that it stands ready to escalate sanctions on Russia in the event of an invasion of Ukraine and can “keep turning up the heat” by targeting more banks, wealthy individuals and key companies if President Vladimir Putin refuses to pull back troops from eastern Ukraine.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the sanctions announced in Parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday against five Russian banks and three Russian billionaires linked with President Putin were severe but that further measures are being kept in the locker.

Britain has joined international allies to take action after Putin ordered troops to be sent into two Ukrainian regions held by Russian-backed separatists.

“The sanctions we’re putting in place are coordinated with the United States, they’re coordinated with Europe, to make sure that Vladimir Putin cannot play divide and rule amongst the allies, said Truss.

We’ve shown we are united and we will escalate those sanctions in the event of a full invasion into Ukraine,” she said.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz has announced the decision to halt approval of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline under the Baltic Sea, a mega EURO 10 billion project which had been expected to allow Russia to sell more natural gas directly to Europe.

Besides, other European Union (EU) countries and the US have also imposed a range of sanctions, including restricting the Russian state from financing its debt from their banks and banning their own companies from trading with the two rebel-held regions.

It comes as Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) reiterated the UK’s commitment to guarantee up to USD 500 million in loans to support Ukraine and mitigate the economic effects of Russian aggression.

The FCDO said it was ready to offer guarantees of Multilateral Development Bank (MDB) lending for projects that will support economic stability and vital reforms such as tackling anti-corruption.

MDBs are international financial institutions that provide financial assistance to developing countries and are owned by shareholding governments, such as the World Bank.

“We are putting our money where our mouth is and using Britain’s economic expertise and strength to support the people of Ukraine. These guarantees can help inject vital capital into Ukraine and help its economy weather the storm of Russian aggression,” said Truss.

Britain stands four-square behind Ukraine and its people. We stand ready to offer direct economic support, providing defensive weapons, and exposing Russian attempts to engineer fake pretexts for invasion, she said.

In December 2021, the UK increased the amount of financial support available to Ukraine from UK Export Finance (UKEF) to 3.5-billion-pound and signed a new treaty that will help Ukraine access the world-class UK supply chain to enhance its naval capabilities.

The FCDO said the economic support comes on top of increased support for military equipment from the Ministry of Defence and enhanced support to the humanitarian system in Ukraine.

Writing in ‘The Times’, Liz Truss said the government had a “long list of those complicit in the actions of the Russian leadership”, adding that if Putin refuses to pull back troops, the UK can “keep turning up the heat” by targeting more banks, wealthy individuals and significant companies.

They would include sanctioning Russian parliamentarians which would require new legislation and preventing British firms from doing business in the two rebel-held areas in Donetsk and Luhansk, recognised by Russia as independent.

The minister has also said the UK would restrict the Russian state and key companies from raising funding in UK financial markets, as well as ban a range of high-tech exports to Russia, “degrading the development of its military-industrial base for years”.

‘Putin highly likely’ to attack Kyiv’

Meanwhile, Truss said on Wednesday that Putin is highly likely to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine and attack Kyiv.

The UK and US have repeatedly over the last weeks cited intelligence as indicating that Russia is planning an invasion of Ukraine.

“We think it’s highly likely that he (Putin) will follow through on his plan for a full-scale invasion of Ukraine”, Truss told Sky News.

Asked if the Russian leader would move on the capital Kyiv, she said: “We think it’s highly likely that that is in his plans.”

While Putin has said he is sending troops, “we don’t yet have the full evidence that that has taken place”, Truss said, calling the current situation “ambiguous”.

Truss held frosty talks earlier this month with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday announced the first tranche of UK sanctions targeting five Russian banks and three billionaire oligarchs.

Truss said Wednesday that the UK needed to “retain some sanctions in the locker” and had “more individuals that we will target in the event of a full-scale invasion”.

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