Britain sanctioned five Russian institutions and three billionaires on Tuesday, in what Prime Minister Boris Johnson described as the “the first barrage” of steps in reaction to the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.
Speaking in the UK parliament only hours after Russia deployed soldiers into two Moscow-backed Ukrainian rebel districts, Johnson called it a “a renewed invasion” of its western neighbor and a “pretext for a full-scale offensive”
“The UK and our allies will begin to impose the sanctions on Russia that we have already prepared… to sanction Russian individuals and entities of strategic importance to the Kremlin,” he told lawmakers.
Further penalties, he warned, were “at readiness to be deployed” if the Kremlin continued to be aggressive in what he believed would be a “a protracted crisis”
Any UK assets held by the five banks targeted — Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank, and the Black Sea Bank — will be blocked.
Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg, and Igor Rotenberg will be barred from entering the United Kingdom, and all UK persons and businesses will be barred from interacting with them and their banks.
“We cannot tell what will happen in the days ahead,” Johnson said in the House of Commons, amid bipartisan criticism of Moscow’s activities.
“But… we should steel ourselves for a protracted crisis.”
The measures were announced after Johnson held a meeting with security leaders early in the morning, during which he promised to tackle Russia “very hard”
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the independence of Ukraine’s rebel-held Donetsk and Lugansk regions, instructing the defence ministry to assume “the function of peacekeeping” in the separatist-held areas.
Its foreign ministry reaffirmed on Tuesday that it has no plans to send soldiers to other sections of eastern Ukraine outside the rebel strongholds “for now”
However, following a large build-up of soldiers on Ukraine’s border, Monday’s move ratcheted up weeks of tensions and Western diplomatic efforts to de-escalate the situation.
Since the radiation poisoning death of a former Russian spy in London in 2006, and the attempted murder of another secret agent in the southern city of Salisbury in 2018, Britain’s ties with the Kremlin have been tense.
Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, successive administrations in London have faced continuous pressure to act against illicit Russian money pouring through the city’s financial sector.
The Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office has summoned Russia’s ambassador to London for discussions on Ukraine, according to Johnson’s spokeswoman.