Boris Johnson imposes new sanctions on over 100 Russian oligarchs and entities

PM brands Putin ‘blood-stained aggressor’ as he vows to ‘hobble’ Russian economy

Boris Johnson announces 'largest and most severe' sanctions against Russia

Boris Johnson has said Britain will impose economic sanctions on more than 100 Russian individuals, entities and subsidiaries – including oligarchs close to president Vladimir Putin.

The prime minister vowed to “hobble” the Russian economy in the wake of the invasion of Ukraine, as he set out the government’s plan to expand sanctions in the Commons on Thursday.

Mr Johnson told MPs that the government would freeze the assets of major Russian banks – including VTB, the second’s largest bank – and would ban Russian airline Aeroflot from landing planes in the UK.

The prime minister said it was the “the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever seen” – and promised that Russian oligarchs living in London “would have nowhere to hide”.

It is understood that further lists of targets have already been prepared so pressure can be further ratcheted up in what the PM called “a rolling programme of intensified sanctions”.

Mr Johnson said Mr Putin’s “hideous and barbarous” venture in Ukraine must “end in failure”, adding: “Now we see him for what is – a blood-stained aggressor who believes in imperial conquest.”

The PM also indicated that the UK would work with allies to limit Russian access to the Swift international payment system. “I know that this House will have great interest in the potential of cutting Russia out from Swift ... nothing is off the table.”

On the expanded list of sanctioned entities are five major companies in the Russian defence sector – including the country’s largest defence company Rostec, which employs more than 2m and exports £10bn of weapons a year – as well as more than 70 of their subsidiaries.

All will have their assets frozen and UK-based companies and individuals will be barred from any transactions with them.

Five super-wealthy individuals with close links to the Kremlin will also face asset freezes and blocks on transactions, as well as a ban on travel to the UK.

The measures will mean, for example, that any of them with children studying at British public schools will be unable to pay their fees.

The targeted oligarchs are Russia’s youngest billionaire Kirill Shamalov, who was previously married to Putin’s daughter, PS Bank chief Petr Fradkov, VTB Bank deputy president Denis Bortnikov, defence company director Yuri Slyusar and Novicom Bank chair  Elena Georgieva.

A UK diplomatic source said: “These are people who have international lifestyles – they come to Harrods to shop, they stay in our best hotels when they like, they send their children to our best public schools, and that is what’s being stopped.”

The official added: “So that these people are essentially persona non grata in every major western European capital in the world. That really bites.”

Mr Johnson promised the Economic Crime Bill will include a register of overseas property ownership, while a new “kleptocracy cell” will be set up in the National Crime Agency. “That means oligarchs in London will have nowhere to hide,” said the prime minister.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer braced the UK for the “sacrifice to defend democracy” of “economic pain” as oil prices soar and Russian money is flushed out of banks.

Sir Keir said Labour would support further sanctions against the regime to see “its ability to function crippled” – and called for a ban on Russia’s participation in the Swift payment system.

Earlier on Thursday Ukraine’s foreign minister urged countries to ban Russia from the Swift payments system – saying those who resisted the move would have “blood on their hands”.

Mr Johnson has faced resistance from Germany to the exclusion of Russia from the Swift system, and a conference call of leaders of G7 states this afternoon agreed only that any move must be taken by members as a group rather than unilaterally.

Legislation will be introduced and brought into effect on Tuesday to prohibit all major Russian companies form raising finance through UK markets and bar the Russian state from raising sovereign debt in Britain.

All exports of dual-use technology are immediately banned and legislation will be rushed through to prohibit sales of hi-tech items and supplies for extractive industries. And elements of the Economic Crime Bill will be brought forward from next year’s agenda and pushed through parliament before Easter to crack down on illicit finance and laundering of Russian money.

A limit will be set on the size of deposits which any Russian national can hold in a UK bank, though the threshold, and the date from which it will be applied, are yet to be decided.

All sanctions on Russia will be extended to include Belarus.

The package of sanctions has been drawn up over a matter of months by a team of officials trebled in size as the Ukraine crisis developed.

Detailed cases for action have been drawn up for each individual and business, with the aim of making the justification for sanctions legally watertight in the case of a court challenge by the notoriously litigious oligarchs.

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