Boris Johnson announced the UK has placed sanctions on five Russian banks and three wealthy individuals under a “first barrage” of measures ahead of a feared full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
During a speech to the House of Commons on Tuesday the Prime Minister described on Tuesday the troops being sent by Vladimir Putin into the Donbas region under the guise of being “peacekeepers” as a “renewed invasion” of Ukraine.
He said the Russian President is “establishing the pretext for a full-scale offensive” as he warned this could include the capture of the capitol Kyiv by the nearly 200,000 troops amassed on Ukraine’s borders.
What did Boris Johnson say?
Mr Johnson accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of having “flagrantly violated” the Minsk peace agreements by recognising the “supposed independence” of two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine, telling MPs: “In a single inflammatory speech, he denied that Ukraine had any tradition of genuine statehood, claimed that it posed a direct threat to the security of Russia and hurled numerous other false accusations and aspersions.”
Mr Johnson said Russian tanks and armed personnel carriers have “since been spotted” in the breakaway regions, adding: “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.”
He told the Commons they should “brace ourselves for the next stage of Putin’s plan”.
Who have the sanctions been placed on?
Mr Johnson told the Commons immediate sanctions would be deployed against the Russian banks Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank.
Sanctions will also be imposed on three “very high net wealth individuals” Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg, and Igor Rotenberg.
Mr Johnson said: “Any assets they hold in the UK will be frozen, the individuals concerned will be banned from travelling here and we will prohibit all UK individuals and entities from having any dealings with them,” he told MPs.
“This the first tranche, the first barrage, of what we are prepared to do and we hold further sanctions at readiness to be deployed.”
“We cannot tell what will happen in the days ahead, but we should steel ourselves for a protracted crisis.
“The United Kingdom will meet this challenge side by side with our allies, determined that we will not allow Putin to drag our continent back into a Hobbesian state of nature.”
What did the opposition leaders say?
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer welcomed the sanctions announced by Boris Johnson and the collective international response, but said “we must be prepared to go further”.
Sir Keir said he understands the tactic of holding back sanctions to try to deter an invasion of the rest of Ukraine, “but 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”.
He said he would work with the Prime Minister and international allies “to ensure that more sanctions are introduced”.
He said Russia should be excluded from financial mechanisms like Swift, trading in Russian sovereign debt should be banned, Russia Today should be prevented from “broadcasting its propaganda around the world”, and Nord Stream 2 should be cancelled.
Meanwhile, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford gave his backing to the sanctions imposed on Russia and said his party stood united with the UK Government.
Mr Blackford added: “We stand with the Ukrainian people who are now under us all. A European country, an ally, is under attack.
“We should be very clear about what is now happening. This is an illegal Russian occupation of Ukraine just as it was in Crimea.”
“No one should even repeat the Russian lie that this is about peacekeeping. This is warmongering, plain and simple.”
Is there still hope for a diplomatic solution?
The UK will “not give up” on a diplomatic solution to tension in Ukraine, the Prime Minister said as he announced new sanctions against Russia.
Boris Johnson said: “I will tell the House we will not give up. We will continue to seek a diplomatic solution until the last possible moment.
“But we have to face the possibility that none of our messages has been heeded and that Putin is implacably determined to go further in subjugating and tormenting Ukraine.
“It is because we suspect this much that the UK and our allies repeatedly sounded the alarm about possible new invasions and we disclosed much of what we knew about Russia’s military build-up.”
What did Boris Johnson say about the Champions League final?
Mr Johnson has signalled Russia should be stripped of hosting this season’s Champions League Final following the “renewed invasion” of Ukraine.
The Prime Minister told MPs there is “no chance” of holding football tournaments in a Russia that “invades sovereign countries”.
St Petersburg is due to host this season’s Uefa Champions League final in May.
English clubs Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool remain in the competition.
Mr Johnson told the House of Commons: “It’s absolutely vital in this critical moment that President Putin understands that what he is doing is going to be a disaster for Russia.
“And it is clear from the response of the world to what he has done already in Donbas that he is going to end up with a Russia that is poorer as a result of the sanctions that the world will implement.
“A Russia that is more isolated, a Russia that has pariah status – no chance of holding football tournaments in a Russia that invades sovereign countries.”
Culture Secretary Nadine Dorries said Mr Putin should not be allowed to “exploit” events like the Champions League final to legitimise the invasion of Ukraine.
“I have serious concerns about the sporting events due to be held in Russia, such as the Champions League final, and will discuss with the relevant governing bodies,” she said.
“We won’t allow President Putin to exploit events on the world stage to legitimise his illegal invasion of Ukraine.”
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