UK Government Outlines Latest Sanctions For Russia

February 25, 2022
Following on from Thursday's dramatic turn of events, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined tougher implications for the Russian Federation.

Following on from Thursday's dramatic turn of events, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has outlined tougher implications for the Russian Federation.

After vowing to implement a “massive” package of sanctions in a televised address, the UK government has put more pressure on the Kremlin and those with links to it.

A range of further oligarchs have now been sanctioned, including Kirill Shamalov, who is Russia's youngest billionaire and former husband of Vladimir Putin's daughter.

The list also includes senior banking officials, such as: Petr Fradkov, the chairperson and chief executive of the state-backed Promsvyazbank (PSB); Denis Bortnikov, the deputy at Russia's second-largest financial institution; Georgieva Elena Aleksandrovna, the chief executive of Novikombank; and Yury Slyusar, the general director of United Aircraft Corporation.

“With new financial measures, we are taking new powers to target Russian finance. In addition to the banks we have already sanctioned this week, today in concert with the United States, we are imposing a full asset freeze on VTB,” Johnson confirmed.

More broadly, Johnson continued, these powers will enable the UK to totally exclude Russian banks from the UK financial system. “This is of course by far the largest in Europe, stopping them from accessing sterling and clearing payments through the UK,” he pointed out.”

The UK has also committed to introducing legislation that will limit the deposits that Russian citizens are able to hold in UK bank accounts, with the Foreign Office confirming that this will be £50,000.

It is expected that this will be tabled in the House of Commons as early as next week.

Parts of the UK’s Economic Crime Bill are also due to be brought forward, days after Johnson told opposition parties that they would be introduced in the next parliamentary session, which begins after the Easter recess.

The sanctions do not stop there and the government appears set on reining in Kremlin-linked influence in London. “We will set up a new dedicated Kleptocracy cell in the National Crime Agency to target sanctions evasion and corrupt Russian assets hidden in the UK,” said Johnson.

“And that means oligarchs in London who have nowhere to hide.”

SWIFT remains a thornier issue. Reports suggest that G7 allies with heavier reliance on Russian resources, such as oil and gas, are pushing back against restricting Russian access to the interbank payments network.

“I know this House will have great interest in the potential of cutting out Russia from SWIFT, and I can confirm — as I have always said — that nothing is off the table,” confirmed Johnson.

“But for all of these measures to be successful it is vital we have the unity of our partners, the unity we have in the G7 and other fora.”

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Ukraine’s President, and other representatives and officials from the war-stricken country have said that they “demand” Russia is removed from the network.

Experts largely agree that cutting off Russia from the international payments system is unlikely to happen as yet.

The UK, EU, and US had announced a “first tranche” of sanctions on Tuesday (February 22), in what has turned out to be an unsuccessful effort.

These sanctions included the designation of a new group of Russian banks and oligarchs from Putin’s inner circle.

Politicians who sit in Russia's Federal Assembly, the Duma, have also been hit with sanctions.

It is notable that Johnson, neither on Tuesday or in this latest announcement, did not specifically call out state-owned Sberbank, Russia's largest bank, for sanctions.

However, the US, along with two other jurisdictions, has announced sanctions on the bank.

Responding to the US announced sanctions, a Sberbank press statement said: "Sberbank is closely studying new working conditions amid the sanctions related to correspondent accounts. The adopted restrictions do not affect the safety and availability of client funds.

"Sberbank has all necessary resources, experience and expertise for successful operation in the current environment."

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