UK outlines route to lifting Russian sanctions

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says 'snapback sanctions' could kick in if Russia attacked again

A woman walks past a fortification made with tyres in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine. EPA
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Sanctions against Russian oligarchs, banks and businesses could be lifted if President Vladimir Putin ends his invasion of Ukraine and commits to “no further aggression”, UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said.

She outlined how Russian sanctions could end but warned that “snapback sanctions” could kick in if Russia attacked again.

The UK's sanctions against Russia over its invasion of Ukraine could be lifted if Moscow committed to a full ceasefire and withdrew its troops, she told The Telegraph.

Ms Truss said the Kremlin must also commit to “no further aggression” towards Ukraine if the British sanctions had to be eased.

In concert with western allies, London has imposed sanctions on more than 1,000 Russian and Belarusian people and businesses in recent weeks, with the latest round of targets announced on Thursday.

“Sanctions should only come off with a full ceasefire and withdrawal, but also commitments that there will be no further aggression,” Ms Truss said.

“And also, there's the opportunity to have snapback sanctions if there is further aggression in future.”

She said Russia had previously signed up to agreements that they had failed to fulfil later.

"What we know is that Russia signed up to multiple agreements they simply don’t comply with. So there needs to be hard levers. Of course, sanctions are a hard lever," she said.

The comments echo recent remarks by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken that the wide-ranging penalties against Russia are “not designed to be permanent” and could “go away” if Moscow changes its behaviour.

Polish President Andrzej Duda welcomes US counterpart Joe Biden to Warsaw

Polish President Andrzej Duda welcomes US counterpart Joe Biden to Warsaw

“The scale of the issue that we’re facing with Russia is so big, it’s so important, it’s so vital that we all stick together,” Ms Truss said.

On Saturday, US President Joe Biden called Russian leader Vladimir Putin “a butcher” who “cannot remain in power”.

Ms Truss also revealed shd has set up a specialist negotiations unit with her foreign ministry to aid Ukraine in peace talks with Russia.

However, she cautioned it would only be useful if the Russians were serious about negotiations.

“I don't believe they are serious at present and that's why I've said we need to be tough to get peace,” Ms Truss said.

Britain and other allies, she said, needed to “double down on sanctions” and “double down on the weapons that we're sending to Ukraine".

She called for Mr Putin to be brought under even more pressure, domestically through the economy and Russia being debilitated.

“With the supply of more weaponry to the Ukrainians, I think we could see his attempts to invade stall. Over time, this will bear down on Putin’s ability to succeed and will ensure that he loses in Ukraine.

“And at that point, we need to make sure that there isn’t a repeat of the Minsk [ceasefire] process — that we actually end up in a situation where there is a genuine ceasefire, there’s a genuine withdrawal of troops from Ukraine, and there are real levers on Russia in the future to stop any future aggression.”

Updated: March 27, 2022, 7:23 AM