Ukraine crisis: UK piles on further sanctions on Russia, Belarus

Russian ships have been banned from British ports including any vessels owned or operated by anyone connected to Russia, with UK authorities given new powers to detain Russian vessels.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (Photo | AP)
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (Photo | AP)

LONDON: Britain has piled on further sanctions against Russia and also imposed a first wave of punitive measures against Belarus for its role in the invasion of Ukraine. Russian ships have been banned from British ports in a fresh raft of UK sanctions against Moscow announced on Tuesday.

The ban includes any vessels owned or operated by anyone connected to Russia, with UK authorities given new powers to detain Russian vessels.

And, in what was termed as the "first tranche" of sanctions against Belarus, four senior defence officials and two military enterprises have been sanctioned with immediate effect under the UK's Russia sanctions regime.

"We are inflicting economic pain on Putin and those closest to him. We will not rest until Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity is restored. The Lukashenko regime actively aids and abets Russia's illegal invasion and will be made to feel the economic consequences for its support for Putin. There will be nowhere to hide. Nothing - and no one - is off the table," said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, with reference to Kremlin-supporting Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

Those sanctioned include the Belarus Chief of the General Staff and First Deputy Minister of Defence, Major General Victor Gulevich.

The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said Gulevich is responsible for directing the actions of the Belarusian armed forces, which have supported and enabled the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He has directed joint military exercises with Russia, and consented to the deployment of Russian troops along the border of Belarus with Ukraine, which has directly contributed to Russia's ability to attack Ukraine, including from positions in Belarus, the FCDO said.

Also sanctioned are state enterprises JSC 558 Aircraft Repair Plant and JSC Integral, a military semi-conductor manufacturer. JSC 558 provides maintenance and servicing to military aircraft at Baranovichi air base, from which Russian aircraft operated as part of the invasion.

As a result, sanctioned individuals will be unable to travel to the UK and any of their UK-based assets will be frozen. Meanwhile, additional economic measures against the Russian Central Bank and the state's sovereign wealth fund mean the "majority" of Russia's financial system is now covered by UK sanctions.

The latest set of measures prohibit UK individuals and entities from providing financial services to the Central Bank of the Russian Federation, as well as the Ministry of Finance and National Wealth Fund. "The ban on Russian ships from UK ports, and new economic sanctions against key Russian financial institutions including its central bank, in close coordination with our allies, will degrade Russia's economy and help make sure Putin loses," added Truss.

The Russian Direct Investment Fund (RDIF) - the country's sovereign wealth fund - and its chief executive, Kirill Dmitriev, have also been sanctioned, with their assets frozen and a travel ban in place for Dmitriev.

The FCDO said RDIF funds projects of strategic significance to Russia and the sanction is aimed at banning UK individuals or companies dealing with the fund.

It came as the British government committed another GBP 80 million in aid to Ukraine to tackle the growing humanitarian crisis as a result of Russian attacks, taking the UK's overall aid support for Ukraine to GBP 220 million.

"With every hour, the passionate desire of the people of Ukraine to defend their country has become more apparent and millions of people around the world have been stirred and moved by their courage,” said Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

"The reality is that whatever happens in the coming days or weeks, the Ukrainian people have shown already that their spirit will not be broken, and they will not be subdued. We as the international community have a responsibility to do everything we can to help the Ukrainians," he said.

This latest round of support comes as the Red Cross Movement launched appeals for global support to deal with the unfolding humanitarian emergency that could see up to 7 million people displaced as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

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