Liz Truss says Britain has a 'long list' of oligarchs to hit with sanctions

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Boris Johnson today vowed to send more weapons to Ukraine as Keir Starmer demanded a tougher crackdown on oligarch ‘loot’ in London.

At PMQs, Mr Johnson said a package including ‘lethal’ defensive arms will be offered to Kiev as it braces to resist a full-scale invasion by Vladimir Putin’s forces.

But he batted away criticism from the Labour leader that the government is not going far enough with reprisals against Moscow and the presidents allies, arguing that the UK has been leading the international response.     

The clashes in the Commons came after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tried to reassure MPs that the UK has far more firepower ‘in the locker’ after the initial response was branded ‘tepid’.   

She confirmed that Boris Johnson ‘misspoke’ when he said in the Commons yesterday that Roman Abramovich was already subject to sanctions. However, she refused to rule out the Chelsea owner being targeted in future – saying: ‘I am not going to go into details of who is on our list for future sanctions.’ 

The PM told Parliament yesterday that a ‘first barrage’ of sanctions were being deployed against three ‘very high net wealth individuals’ – Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg – whom he described as ‘cronies’ of Vladimir Putin.

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

But MPs lined up to call for tougher steps to make Moscow ‘squeal’ over the flagrant breach of international law. 

Opening the PMQs session this afternoon, Mr Johnson said: ‘In light of the increasingly threatening behaviour from Russia, and in line with our previous support, the UK will shortly be providing a further package of military support to Ukraine.

‘This will include lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons and non-lethal aid.’

Liz Truss moved to reassure MPs that the UK has far more firepower 'in the locker' after the initial response was branded 'tepid'

Boris Johnson

Liz Truss moved to reassure MPs that the UK has far more firepower ‘in the locker’ after the initial response was branded ‘tepid’. Boris Johnson (right out jogging this morning) will face PMQs at noon 

At PMQs this afternoon Keir Starmer demanded a tougher crackdown on oligarch 'loot' in London

At PMQs this afternoon Keir Starmer demanded a tougher crackdown on oligarch ‘loot’ in London

Ms Truss refused to rule out Roman Abramovich (pictured earlier this month) being targeted in future - saying: ‘I am not going to go into details of who is on our list for future sanctions.'

Ms Truss refused to rule out Roman Abramovich (pictured earlier this month) being targeted in future – saying: ‘I am not going to go into details of who is on our list for future sanctions.’

Ms Truss insisted Britain has a 'long list' of targets for sanctions if Vladimir Putin (pictured) launches a full invasion of Ukraine - warning 'nothing is off the table' in terms of who is hit

Ms Truss insisted Britain has a ‘long list’ of targets for sanctions if Vladimir Putin (pictured) launches a full invasion of Ukraine – warning ‘nothing is off the table’ in terms of who is hit

In a round of interviews this morning, Ms Truss stressed that some people had moved to the UK from Russia but were ‘not necessarily friends of Vladimir Putin’ and that was different to people who were ‘backing his appalling regime’. 

She also rejected calls from Labour for the Conservatives to hand back donations worth £2million it received from people with links to Russia. 

‘I believe that Putin is hell-bent on invading Ukraine,’ Ms Truss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘This is about inflicting pain on Putin and degrading the Russian economic system over time, targeting people that are close to Putin.

‘What we have to do is make it as painful as possible, both by supplying support to the Ukrainian government in terms of defensive weapons, in terms of economic support, and by imposing economic costs.’

Asked on Sky News to clarify Mr Johnson’s comments that Mr Abramovich had been sanctioned in the past, Ms Truss said: ‘No he hasn’t been previously sanctioned. The PM misspoke in the House and the record will be corrected.’

Pushed whether the oligarch should have been sanctioned, Ms Truss said: ‘As I have said, I am not going to go into details of what our future sanctions plans are, but nothing is off the table.’

Told Mr Abramovich was on a list of potential targets drawn up by Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, Ms Truss said: ‘We have already targeted some of Putin’s closest allies with the sanctions that we announced yesterday.

‘I am not going to go into details of who is on our list for future sanctions. But viewers can be assured that we have more individuals that we will target in the event of a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

‘And we will be targeting them in conjunction with our international allies like the Europeans and the United States to make sure that these people cannot travel, that their assets are frozen, and that they will have nowhere to hide.

‘That is the message we are sending to Vladimir Putin and his regime. We will inflict even more pain in the event of a full incursion into Ukraine.’

Challenged on whether any Tory donors were potential targets, Ms Truss again said ‘I don’t rule anything out’ but said: ‘All of those donations are properly declared.’ 

Writing in the Times, Ms Truss said the government is looking at sanctioning members of the Russian Duma and Federation Council. 

‘And we will extend the territorial sanctions imposed on Crimea to the separatist-controlled territories in the Donbas. No UK individual or business will be able to deal with these territories until they are returned to Ukraine,’ she wrote.

‘We have a long list of those complicit in the actions of the Russian leadership. Should Russia refuse to pull back its troops we can keep turning up the heat, targeting more banks, elites and companies of significance. 

‘We will introduce measures to limit Russia’s ability to trade and prohibit a range of hightech exports, degrading the development of its militaryindustrial base for years. In time, even those close to President Putin will come to see his decisions this week as a self-inflicted wound.’

Ms Truss also echoed the PM’s call for European football governing body Uefa to move the Champions League final from St Petersburg in May.

Boris Rotenberg (pictured right) meeting Vladimir Putin when he was awarded a medal in 2019

Boris Rotenberg (pictured right) meeting Vladimir Putin when he was awarded a medal in 2019

Boris Rotenberg, a gas and electricity billionaire, with his glamorous wife Karina

Russian billionaire and businessman Gennady Timchenko

Left: Boris Rotenberg, a gas and electricity billionaire, with his glamorous wife Karina. Right, Russian billionaire and businessman Gennady Timchenko

Boris Rotenberg and his wife Karina Rotenberg posing for the cameras

Boris Rotenberg and his wife Karina Rotenberg posing for the cameras

Russian billionaire Igor Rotenberg, one of those targeted by the UK sanctions yesterday

Russian billionaire Igor Rotenberg, one of those targeted by the UK sanctions yesterday

In the Commons yesterday, Labour leader Keir Starmer called for Russia to be cut off from the global banking system and for television channel RT, formerly Russia Today, to be taken off the airwaves in the UK. 

Tory former cabinet minister Robert Jenrick said the UK should be taking action ‘hard, now’, explaining: ‘That is what a dictator like Putin can understand.’

Liberal Democrat Layla Moran used parliamentary privilege to name 35 Russian oligarchs she described as ‘key enablers’, including Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich and Alisher Usmanov, who has ties with Everton.

Tory backbencher Nickie Aiken suggested the children of Russian oligarchs should be kicked out of British public schools.

And Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader, demanded Britain should hit Russia ‘hard and hit them now’.

At the same time, Russian politicians boasted that the measures announced by Mr Johnson would have ‘zero’ effect.

Outside Parliament, anti-Kremlin campaigner Bill Browder described the package of measures as ‘pretty tepid’. He highlighted how the three oligarchs cited yesterday had been on a US sanctions list since 2018, meaning it was already unlikely many British businesses would have dealings with them. 

In the Commons, Sir Iain said: ‘We can do, we should do and we must do more to root out the dirty money that flows through here.’

The former Tory leader said Britain should work with allies ‘absolutely to cut off supplies of money, such that the Russians cannot, and President Putin cannot, find a way through this and they feel the pain’. He added: ‘We must hear them squeal when we hit them with these sanctions.’

No 10 last night rejected suggestions UK sanctions would have little effect. The PM’s spokesman said the measures would have a ‘real impact’ on the Russian economy.

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