UK’s Boris Johnson announces Russia sanctions to ‘squeeze’ Moscow out of global economy

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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Thursday that the UK government will freeze assets of all major Russian banks and block Russian entities from raising money on UK markets as part of the international response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

“We will continue on a remorseless mission to squeeze Russia from the global economy piece by piece, day by day and week by week,” Johnson told the House of Commons.

“And we will, of course, use Britain’s position in every international forum to condemn the onslaught against Ukraine. And we will counter the Kremlin’s blizzard of lies and disinformation by telling the truth about Putin’s war of choice and his war of aggression.”

RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE: LIVE UPDATES

Britain Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrives to deliver an address about the attack by Russia on Ukraine at Downing Street, London, Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.
(Jeff Mitchell / Pool Photo via AP)

The sanctions will see all major Russian bank assets in the UK frozen and excluded from the British financial system. The package is also banning Russian state-owned and strategic private companies from raising financing in the UK market, while sanctioning 120 companies and oligarchs. It comes after a full invasion of Ukraine by Russia and was part of a broad international response to the aggression by Moscow. The UK is also slapping sanctions on Belarus.

“Now we see [Putin] for what he is – a bloodstained aggressor who believes in imperial conquest, “Johnson said.

RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE: LIVE UPDATES

Targets in the sanctions include Russian bank VTB, defense company Rostec, Tactical Missile Corporation and five of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle, including ex-son-in-law Kirill Shamalov.

Local people form a line to withdraw cash from an ATM in Lviv, a western Ukraine city, Feb.  24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas, and a multi-pronged attack on several Ukrainian cities has begun.

Local people form a line to withdraw cash from an ATM in Lviv, a western Ukraine city, Feb. 24, 2022. Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a special military operation in Donbas, and a multi-pronged attack on several Ukrainian cities has begun.
(The Yomiuri Shimbun)

Export controls, as well as a ban on Russian airline Aeroflot from UK airspace were also included in the host of measures announced. The British Foreign Office also said the UK is working with allies to exclude Russia from the SWIFT financial system, but there was no firm announcement on that front.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss declared the sanctions package was “unprecedented” and called Russia an “international pariah.”

“We will squeeze Putin’s regime and all those close to him responsible for its appalling attack on Ukraine,” she said in a statement. “We will not rest until Russia’s economy has been degraded and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity restored.”

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The sanctions came as the US imposed another tranche of sanctions on Putin’s regime. President Biden announced sanctions on multiple banks, including VTB, Sberbank, Bank Otkritie, Sovcombank OJSC and Novikombank. Export controls and sanctions on Russian elites were also announced.

But Biden stopped short of sanctioning Putin himself, and he did not announce a ban on Russia from the SWIFT banking system, saying Europe is not on board with such a move.

The European Union agreed on sanctions to include the financial, energy and transport sectors, although the specific details of the sanctions were not immediately available.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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