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UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to hit Russia hard for its aggression in Ukraine and ordered an asset freeze against all main Russian banks.
He spoke shortly before US President Joe Biden also announced expanded sanctions on Russian financial institutions, export controls that restrict Moscow’s access to new technology and take aim at Russian elites loyal to President Vladimir Putin.
Mr Johnson told the House of Commons “anyone who sends a Russian into battle to kill innocent Ukrainians” could be brought to court on war crimes.
The UK, he said, will enact “the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever seen” in response to Mr Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
The prime minister extended punitive measures on Thursday to hit five further oligarchs, including the Russian president’s former son-in-law, and more than 100 businesses and individuals.
After the UK announced the newest series of sanctions, EU leaders gave a green light to a new set of sanctions that will restrict Russia’s access to Europe’s financial sector and key technologies. The measures could be formally adopted as soon as Friday once officials hammer out final details.
Aeroflot will imminently be banned from touching down planes in the UK, while there will be an asset freeze on all major Russian banks, including against VTB, effective immediately.
Mr Johnson announced his second barrage of sanctions after Russia and allied Belarus began their attack on Ukraine, hitting cities and military bases with air strikes.
The prime minister said the latest sanctions include “all the major manufacturers that support Putin’s war machine".
The British government is expected to announce further details, including names of companies and people who will be sanctioned as a result of the invasion, next week.
The measures will prohibit major Russian companies from raising finance on UK markets, where in recent years they have been able to raise tens of billions.
There will also be a package of sanctions against Russian propaganda broadcasters that air in Britain, which is expected to include Russia Today.
Among the biggest targets will be defence companies involved in supporting the Russian military industrial complex. Large energy companies and banks will be sanctioned as well.
Britain also plans to ban the export of a wide range of high-tech products, including semiconductors, to Russia.
The FTSE 100 reported its biggest one-day fall since June 2020 as investors reacted to the invasion, dropping 3.9 per cent to 7,207.01 and wiping £77 billion off the value of the UK’s 100 biggest listed companies.
The Russian oligarchs named in the sanctions will not only be banned from visiting Britain but will not be able to spend money in the UK. This will mean children in private schools — which have about 2,300 Russian pupils enrolled across Britain — will not be able to pay their fees, potentially forcing them to leave.
A diplomatic source said of those sanctioned: “These are people who have international lifestyles.
“They come to Harrods to shop, they stay in our best hotels when they like, they send their children to our best public schools, and that is what's being stopped … so that these people are essentially persona non grata in every major Western European capital in the world. That really bites.”
Mr Johnson called Mr Putin a “bloodstained aggressor” who was “always determined” to attack Ukraine.
“Putin will stand condemned in the eyes of the world and of history. He will never be able to cleanse the blood of Ukraine from his hands.
“Although the UK and our allies tried every avenue for diplomacy until the final hour, I am driven to conclude that Putin was always determined to attack his neighbour, no matter what we did.
“Now we see him for what he is — a bloodstained aggressor who believes in imperial conquest.”
The British prime minister made his comments as G7 leaders released a statement condemning Mr Putin.
“President Putin has reintroduced war to the European continent. He has put himself on the wrong side of history,” the statement said.
Ukraine came under attack on Thursday, with explosions heard in major cities and reports of assaults on military infrastructure and artillery fire against border guard posts, airfields and apartment blocks.
Russian missile and air strikes as well as helicopter gunship and tank action deep inside Ukrainian territory have been reported by local officials.
Ukrainian border police said tanks had crossed into the country from Russia, occupied Crimea and Belarus, opening an assault on several fronts that analysts fear could lead to a swift attack on Kiev.
The sanctions come days after Mr Johnson was criticised for acting too cautiously in response to Russian aggression earlier this week.
Mr Johnson told MPs: “We will continue on a remorseless mission to squeeze Russia from the global economy piece by piece, day by day and week by week.
“We will, of course, use Britain’s position in every international forum to condemn the onslaught against Ukraine and we will counter the Kremlin’s blizzard of lies and disinformation by telling the truth about Putin’s war of choice and his war of aggression.
“And we will work with our allies on the urgent need to protect other European countries that are not members of Nato and who could become targets of Putin’s playbook of subversion and aggression.
“And we will resist any creeping temptation to accept what Putin is doing today as a fait accompli. There can be no creeping normalisation, not now, not in the months to come, not in the years ahead — we must strengthen Nato’s defences still further.”