UK sanctions Putin’s ‘war leaders’ with ‘Ukrainian blood on their hands’

The move will target those ‘commanding the front line’ to commit ‘heinous’ acts in Ukraine, the FCDO said.

Ukrainian soldiers walk on a destroyed bridge in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv (Emilio Morenatti/AP)
Ukrainian soldiers walk on a destroyed bridge in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv (Emilio Morenatti/AP)

The Government has announced new sanctions against Vladimir Putin’s “war leaders”, as the Foreign Secretary vowed to crack down on those with “Ukrainian blood on their hands”.

The move will target those “commanding the front line” to commit “heinous” acts in Ukraine, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO).

The UK is also taking action against individuals outside Mr Putin’s military, who are “actively supporting his illegal invasion”.

Meanwhile, the Department for International Trade said the Government has banned imports of caviar and other high-end products from Russia.

The import ban is being extended to cover silver and wood products while tariffs on imports of diamonds and rubber from Russia and Belarus are being increased by 35 percentage points.

The “key leaders in Russia’s army” targeted as part of the new wave of sanctions include Lt Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov, a commanding officer with involvement in the Bucha massacre, the FCDO said.

He has been dubbed the “Butcher of Bucha”, as his unit occupied the Ukrainian city where they have been reports of war crimes, with the death toll reaching almost 350, it added.

Also sanctioned by the UK are Colonel General Andrey Serdyukov, commander of airborne forces; Major General Valery Flyustikov, commander of special operations forces; and Colonel General Nikolay Bogdanovsky, first deputy chief of the general staff.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tweeted: “Today I announce new sanctions on those with Ukrainian blood on their hands including the commander of the unit which occupied Bucha and other individuals and businesses supporting Putin’s military.

“We are relentless in support of Ukraine.”

The individuals outside Mr Putin’s military targeted in Thursday’s round of sanctions include Oleg Belozyorov, the chief executive and chairman of vital logistics company Russian Railways, and Ilya Kiva, the defecting and expelled Ukrainian MP who has publicly supported Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the FCDO said.

The Foreign Secretary accused Russia of deliberately going after civilian targets as she condemned the invasion.

“The depravity of Russia’s assault on the people of Ukraine is plain for all to see,” she said.

“They are deliberately targeting hospitals, schools and transport hubs in Mariupol and beyond – just as they did in Chechnya and Syria.”

In a statement the FCDO said: “Since March 10 2022, Russian bombers have repeatedly dropped munitions on civilian infrastructure, including civil government buildings, hospitals, schools and transportation nodes.

“The UK Government conclusion is that this is intentional targeting based on the types of civilian targets struck, frequency of strikes, volume of munitions and the repeated targeting of the same locations on consecutive days.”

As part of the latest sanctions package, the UK is also fast-tracking 19 individuals and entities in line with global partners from the G7 and the EU.

The FCDO said those targeted include Sergei Borisovich Korolyov, the first deputy director of the Federal Security Service of Russia, and Military Industrial Company, a major supplier of arms and military equipment to the Russian armed forces.

“These additional sanctions are all linked to Russia’s military and defence capabilities as the UK and allies use sanctions to hamstring Putin’s current and future military efforts,” the department said.

On the import ban, International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “We are taking every opportunity we can to ratchet the pressure to isolate the Russian economy and these further measures will tighten the screws, shutting down lucrative avenues of funding for Putin’s war machine.”

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