Britain warns Russia of sanctions against oligarchs if Ukraine is invaded

  • Britain warns Russia of possible sanctions against Ukraine
  • Russia has assembled troops near Ukraine
  • Britain already has sanctions against some Russian individuals, entities
  • The Kremlin says sanctions will backfire and hurt British companies
  • Johnson will ask Putin to “step back from the brink”

LONDON / MOSCOW, January 31 (Reuters) – Britain on Monday called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to “take a step back from the brink” over Ukraine, warning that any intrusion would trigger sanctions against companies and people closely linked to the Kremlin .

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the threat of such measures, repeating moves outlined by a senior US official following a Russian troop build-up near Ukraine, would be tantamount to an attack on Russian companies. Read more

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the British warning “very disturbing”, saying such statements undermined Britain’s investment attractiveness and would backfire by harming British companies.

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“It is not often that one sees or hears such direct threats to attack businesses,” Peskov said. “An attack by a given country on Russian business involves retaliatory measures, and these measures will be formulated based on our interests if necessary.”

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, London has become the prominent global center for a large outflow of money from former Soviet republics.

Opponents of Putin have repeatedly called on the West to be tough on Russian money, even as oligarchs and Russian officials continue to brag about their wealth in Europe’s most luxurious destinations.

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Ukraine and will also speak to Putin by telephone.

“What I want to say to President Putin, as I have said before, is that I think we really all need to step down from the brink, and I think Russia needs to step down from the brink, “Johnson told reporters.


The US, EU and UK have warned Putin of harsh sanctions if Russia attacks Ukraine after gathering tens of thousands of troops near the border. Read more

A senior official in the Biden administration said Washington and its allies have compiled a list of Russian elites in or near Putin’s inner circle to impose economic sanctions.

“The people we have identified are in or close to the Kremlin’s inner circle and play a role in government decision – making or are at least complicit in the Kremlin’s destabilizing behavior,” the Washington official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The United States has developed specific sanctions packages for both the Russian elites who meet the criteria and their family members, and these efforts are being pursued in coordination with US allies and partners, the official said.

Russia refuses to plan to attack Ukraine and demands security guarantees, including a promise from NATO never to allow Kyiv to join the alliance.

The British government will introduce new legislation this week to extend the scope of sanctions it can apply to Russia to try to deter aggression against Ukraine, Foreign Minister Liz Truss said on Sunday. Read more

She said London should be able to target “any business of interest to the Kremlin and the regime in Russia” and that “there would be nowhere to hide from Putin’s oligarchs”.

On a visit to Hungary, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said it was important to address the crisis as a war would lead to greater instability, higher fuel prices and migrant flows.

Wallace expressed support for a planned trip to Russia on Tuesday by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban for talks with Putin, adding: “We need to de-scale this and stand up for Ukraine’s right to sovereignty.” Read more

Britain has imposed sanctions on about 180 people and 48 units since Russia annexed Crimea to Ukraine in 2014.

On the sanctions list are six people Britain says are close to Putin: businessmen Yuri Kovalchuk, Arkady Rotenberg and Nikolai Shamalov, former KGB officer Sergei Chemezov, Russian Security Council Secretary Nikolai Patrushev and Federal Security Service (FSB) chief Alexander Bortnikov.

The sanctions allow the UK to freeze individual assets and ban individuals from entering the UK.

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Reporting by Guy Faulconbridge, William James and Dmitry Antonov; editing by Michael Holden and Timothy Heritage

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


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