Starmer calls for sanctions to ‘cripple’ Putin’s Russia

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for tougher sanctions on Vladimir Putin’s allies as he visited British troops in Estonia.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer meets troops during a visit to Tapa military base in Estonia (Victoria Jones/PA)
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer meets troops during a visit to Tapa military base in Estonia (Victoria Jones/PA)

Sanctions on allies of Vladimir Putin should be imposed “further and faster” in order to cripple Russia’s ability to function, Sir Keir Starmer said.

The Labour leader demanded more action as the Government announced measures against prominent oligarchs including Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich.

Sir Keir said he was “frustrated” at the pace with which asset freezes and travel bans were being slapped on those with links to the Putin regime.

Speaking to reporters on a visit to the Tapa military base in Estonia, Sir Keir said: “I called for these sanctions against Abramovich two weeks ago now and a feature of the Government’s reaction here is that they are too slow.

“I support what they are doing and we voted for these sanctions to go through, but we do want a Government to go further and faster, and not be so slow.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and shadow defence secretary John Healey (centre) walk to Estonia’s Ministry of Defence (Victoria Jones/PA)

Sir Keir added: “Every oligarch and those supporting Putin in any way should be sanctioned.”

Asked if he agreed with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s assessment that the sanctioned oligarchs have “the blood of Ukrainian people on their hands”, Sir Keir told the PA news agency: “Anybody who’s supported Putin is supporting the appalling situation that we see unfolding before us on a daily basis.

“At the moment the most immediate and important thing is that we have the most effective sanctions in place not just to isolate Russia but to cripple Russia’s ability to function.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer during a visit to Tapa military base (Victoria Jones/PA)

Sir Keir also condemned Priti Patel’s approach to visas for Ukrainians seeking to flee the war zone.

“I’m here in Estonia with British forces who have an incredible reputation across the world, enhancing our reputation as the United Kingdom,” he said.

“The Home Office approach to visas has been the complete opposite, a complete shambles that is diminishing our reputation across the world.

“We’ve got a Home Office where the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing and they need to restore their reputation, get on with the job, and find a way of having a safe route to sanctuary for people who are desperately fleeing for their lives.”

During his visit, Estonia’s defence minister, Kalle Laanet, presented the Labour leader with a ceremonial plate at the ministry of defence building in the capital Tallinn.

Sir Keir was accompanied by shadow defence secretary John Healey on his trip to the snow-blanketed eastern European country, which shares a 183-mile (294km) border with Russia.

The Labour leader spoke with Mr Laanet in private for around 30 minutes before setting off for the Tapa military base.

He told the Nato troops at the base “the eyes of the world are upon you”.

Surrounded by tanks including one draped with a Union flag, Sir Keir thanked soldiers for providing “reassurance” through their presence at the base in the country.

He added that “there is no time for party politics” because the world faces “a very grave situation” amid Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

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