13 June 2023

UK firms operating in Russia ‘complicit in war crimes’ against Ukraine, says MP

13 June 2023

UK businesses continuing to operate in Russia are “complicit in the war crimes” committed against the Ukrainian people, MPs have heard.

Labour former minister Sir Chris Bryant told the Commons about the Russian government introducing a new law last year, requiring all businesses, including foreign ones, operating in the Russian Federation to “assist in the war in Ukraine”.

Sir Chris urged the Government to make it “absolutely clear” that all British businesses should “completely and utterly desist from business in Russia immediately”.

Foreign Office minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan said there has been a “positive attitude” from British businesses and a “willingness to take financial pain immediately in order to step away” from Russian markets and activity.

The Rhondda MP said: “The Russian government introduced a new law last year which requires all businesses, including foreign businesses that have any footprint in the Russian Federation, to assist in the war in Ukraine.

“That means any British businesses who are still doing business now in Russia are complicit in the war crimes that Russia is perpetrating against the Ukrainian people.

“Would the minister now make it absolutely clear that all British businesses should completely and utterly desist from business in Russia immediately?”

Ms Trevelyan replied: “One of the extraordinary things that we saw early last year when the war broke out was the positive attitude of British businesses and their willingness to take financial pain immediately in order to step away and demonstrate not only where we imposed sanctions and prohibitions but beyond that, to pull themselves away from Russian markets and activity.”

She said the Government will continue to work with businesses.

Foreign Office questions also saw James Cleverly telling MPs how the UK’s support to Kyiv “will all have helped” to speed up Ukraine’s path to join Nato.

His comments came after shadow foreign secretary David Lammy called on Britain to “play a leading role” in securing Ukraine’s accession to the Alliance.

He said: “As the Nato secretary general said last month, Ukraine’s rightful place is in Nato, and over time our support will help make this possible.

“Does the Foreign Secretary agree with me that once – with our support – Ukraine has prevailed in its war against Russia’s invasion, there can be no Minsk 3.0 and that Britain should play a leading role in securing Ukraine’s path to join Nato.”

Mr Cleverly replied: “I’ve very glad that (he) agrees with the Government’s position on this that Ukraine’s rightful place is within Nato.

“We have worked towards that aim and our support, the training that we provided, the equipment that we provided, the advice that we provide will all have helped to speed up the pathway from now to the point where Ukraine becomes a full member of Nato.”

The best thing that they can do to protect the environment, to protect civilian infrastructure and to end this loss of life is to withdraw their troops and do so immediately

The Foreign Secretary was also asked by Tory former minister Vicky Ford about the blowing of the Kakhovka dam. She said: “Will the Foreign Secretary confirm again that the UK will leave no stone unturned in holding the Russian regime to account for the damages that have been caused by their war?”

Mr Cleverly told the Commons: “She is right about the huge environmental damage that is caused by the breaking of the dam.

“It is worth reminding the house, I’m sure everyone’s already very conscious of this, that instances like this, the damage to other civilian infrastructure, of course, across Ukraine is only happening because of Russia’s war, because of their illegitimate invasion of Ukraine.

“The best thing that they can do to protect the environment, to protect civilian infrastructure and to end this loss of life is to withdraw their troops and do so immediately.”

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