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22 February 2022

Johnson hits five banks and three Putin ‘cronies’ with sanctions over Ukraine

22 February 2022

Britain is sanctioning three wealthy allies of Vladimir Putin and five Russian banks, Boris Johnson has announced under a “first barrage” of punitive measures in response to a “renewed invasion” of Ukraine.

The Prime Minister warned on Tuesday that Moscow sending troops into the Donbas region under the guise of being “peacekeepers” appears to be Moscow “establishing the pretext for a full-scale offensive”, with nearly 200,000 troops amassed on Ukraine’s border.

Mr Johnson told the Commons immediate sanctions are being deployed against three “very high net wealth individuals” – Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg, and Igor Rotenberg – who he described as “cronies” of the Russian president.

The sanctions, which include UK asset freezes, a travel ban and prohibition on British individuals and businesses dealing with them, were also tabled against the Russian banks Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Ban.

“This the first tranche, the first barrage, of what we are prepared to do and we hold further sanctions at readiness to be deployed,” Mr Johnson told MPs, before warning that he would hit Russia “harder” if required in the future.

The Prime Minister also applied pressure on Uefa not to hold its Champions League final in St Petersburg in June, saying there should be “no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries”.

Mr Johnson added: “The House should be in no doubt that the deployment of these forces in sovereign Ukrainian territory amounts to a renewed invasion of that country.

“And by denying Ukraine’s legitimacy as a state – and presenting its very existence as a mortal threat to Russia – Putin is establishing the pretext for a full-scale offensive.”

But he faced calls to go further now on the sanctions – which followed a package of measures proposed by the EU – from Sir Keir Starmer as well as some Tory MPs.

The Labour leader said he understands the tactic of holding back sanctions to try to deter an invasion past the Donetsk and Luhansk regions in the east of Ukraine but said “a threshold has already been breached”.

He said a sovereign nation “has been invaded in a war of aggression”, and “if we do not respond with the full set of sanctions now Putin will once again take away the message that the benefits of aggression outweigh the costs”.

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