British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tells Sky News that she is “ruling absolutely nothing out” when it comes to UK support for Ukraine, while she warns Russian oligarchs over toughened sanctions in the face of Vladimir Putin’s build-up of troops.
London- Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs will have “nowhere to hide” under toughened UK sanctions, and British weapons and cash could be sent to Ukraine if Russia invades, the foreign secretary has said.
Speaking to Sky News’ Trevor Phillips On Sunday – amid growing tensions between the West and Moscow over Russia’s build-up of troops on Ukraine’s border – Liz Truss said: “The number one priority is deterring Vladimir Putin from taking that action.
“That’s why we are offering to deploy extra troops into Estonia, we are providing more air support across the Black Sea, and we are supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine to make sure they are in the best possible position should Vladimir Putin try to stage an incursion.
“What I’ll be announcing later this week is improved legislation on sanctions so we can target more Russian interests that are of direct relevance to the Kremlin.
“Because we absolutely need to stop this happening, that is our number one priority.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned on Sunday of an “increasingly concerning” situation over Ukraine, after he received briefings this week from defence chiefs.
“I continue to urge Russia to engage in negotiations and avoid a reckless and catastrophic invasion,” he posted on Twitter.
Mr Johnson is looking at doubling the number of UK troops deployed to strengthen Europe’s borders in a new offer to NATO, as well as sending fast jets, warships and military specialists.
UK ‘ruling absolutely nothing out’ in assisting Ukraine – but British troops ‘unlikely’
In her appearance on Sky News, Ms Truss said she was “ruling absolutely nothing out” when it comes to the UK’s support for Ukraine, as she was asked if Britain might supply money and weapons to Ukrainian forces in the event of a Russian invasion.
However, the foreign secretary has deemed it “very unlikely” that British troops could be sent to fight alongside Ukrainians against Russia.
NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg has also said there are “no plans” to deploy NATO combat troops to Ukraine, in the event of a Russian invasion.
He noted there was “a difference” between being a full NATO member, with a mutual defence obligation between countries within the alliance, and a “strong and highly valued partner” such as Ukraine.
Ukraine’s plans for future membership of NATO has been cited as one of the key reasons behind the current tensions between Moscow and the West.
Russia’s foreign minister Sergey Lavrov on Sunday claimed NATO wants to pull Ukraine into the alliance, telling his country’s state television that NATO “has already come close to Ukraine”.
“They also want to drag this country there,” he added. “Although everyone understands that Ukraine is not ready and could make no contribution to strengthening NATO security.”
Meanwhile, the head of Russia’s security council, Nikolai Patrushev, rejected Western warnings about a planned invasion of Ukraine.
“At this time, they’re saying that Russia threatens Ukraine – that’s completely ridiculous,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency Tass.
“We don’t want war and we don’t need it at all.”
Russian oligarchs warned over London property under new sanctions
In a warning to those close to Mr Putin, Ms Truss said of the widening of UK sanctions laws: “Any company of interest to the Kremlin and the regime in Russia would be able to be targeted.
“So there would be nowhere to hide for Putin’s oligarchs or Russian companies involved in propping up the Russian state.
“That is what we are looking at doing this week.”
Ms Truss did not rule out the possibility that tougher sanctions, expected to be outlined in parliament on Monday, could include the seizure of London property of Russian oligarchs in the UK.
“Nothing is off the table,” the foreign secretary said. “We’re not going to go into the details of exactly who and how we would target the sanctions.
“What the legislation enables us to do is hit a much wider variety of targets, so there can nobody who thinks they would be immune to those sanctions.”
Who are the Russian oligarchs?
|Look up oligarch in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
Russian oligarchs are business oligarchs of the former Soviet republics who rapidly accumulated wealth during the era of Russian privatization in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in the 1990s. The failing Soviet state left the ownership of state assets contested, which allowed for informal deals with former USSR officials (mostly in Russia and Ukraine) as a means to acquire state property. Historian Edward L. Keenan has drawn a comparison between the current Russian phenomenon of oligarchs and the system of powerful boyars which emerged in late-Medieval Muscovy.
The first modern Russian oligarchs emerged as business-sector entrepreneurs under Mikhail Gorbachev (General Secretary 1985–1991) during his period of market liberalization. These younger generation entrepreneurs were able to build their initial wealth due to Gorbachev’s reforms “when co-existence of regulated and quasi-market prices created huge opportunities for arbitrage.” The term “oligarch” derives from the Ancient Greek oligarkhia meaning “the rule of the few”.
Since 2018, several Russian oligarchs and their companies have been hit by US sanctions under the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) for their support of “the Russian government’s malign activity around the globe”.