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UK imposes 'toughest' new sanctions against Russia

Britain, on Wednesday, announced what it described as a "significant ratcheting up" of sanctions on Russia

UK imposes toughest new sanctions against Russia

Britain, on Wednesday, announced what it described as a "significant ratcheting up" of sanctions on Russia, including a full asset freeze on the country's largest bank Sberbank and end to all new British outward investment into Russia.

It comes as Prime Minister Boris Johnson declared that the reported attacks on civilians by Russian forces in the Ukrainian town of Bucha do not "look far short of genocide".

Dozens of people have been found dead in the town after Russian troops withdrawal, resulting in worldwide condemnation, but Moscow has denied involvement and described the reports as fake news.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) announced sweeping new measures soon after, which it said are developed in lockstep with global allies including the European Union (EU) and the US.

"Today, we are stepping up our campaign to bring Putin's appalling war to an end with some of our toughest sanctions yet," said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

This marks the UK's fifth package of economic measures, aimed at cutting off key sectors of the Russian economy and ending UK dependency on Russian energy as part of what the FCDO sees as starving Russian President Vladimir Putin's "war machine".

The sanctions cover asset freezes against Sberbank and Credit Bank of Moscow. In 2020, UK investment in Russia was worth over GBP 11 billion, which will now face an outright ban.

By the end of 2022, the UK said it will end all dependency on Russian coal and oil, and end imports of gas as soon as possible thereafter. From next week, the export of key oil refining equipment and catalysts will also be banned – a measure targeting not only the industry's finances but its capabilities as a whole.

As part of action against key Russian strategic industries and state-owned enterprises, there will now also be a ban on imports of iron and steel products, a key source of revenue.

Russia's military ambitions are also being thwarted by new restrictions on its ability to acquire the UK's world-renowned quantum and advanced material technologies, the FCDO said.

Besides, a further eight oligarchs active in industries which Putin uses to "prop up his war economy" are also on the latest sanctions list.

These include: Viatcheslav (Moshe) Kantor, the largest shareholder of fertilizer company Acron with vital strategic significance for the Russian government; Andrey Guryev, known close associate of Putin and founder of PhosAgro a vital strategic company that produces fertilizers; Sergey Kogogin, director of Kamaz manufacturer of trucks and buses, including for the Russian military and Sergey Sergeyevich Ivanov, President of the world's largest diamond producer Alrosa, which the UK also sanctioned.

Others are Leonid Mikhelson, the founder, and CEO of leading Russian natural gas producer Novatek, with a net worth of GBP 18 billion; Andrey Akimov, the CEO of Russia's third largest bank Gazprombank; Aleksander Dyukov, the CEO of Russia's third largest and majority state-owned oil producer GazpromNeft; and Boris Borisovich Rotenberg, son of the co-owner of Russia's largest gas pipeline producer SGM. The Rotenberg family are known for their close connections to Putin and a number of them have already been sanctioned.

The latest move comes ahead of a meeting of G7 Foreign Ministers on Thursday, where the UK will call for further collective action, including an accelerated timetable for all G7 countries to end their dependency on Russian energy.

The UK government said it will also call for continued G7 unity in imposing further co-ordinated waves of sanctions against the Russian economy and elites around Putin, until Russia withdraws its troops and ends its brutal campaign of aggression against Ukraine once and for all.c

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