Britain urges western allies to go after Russian gold

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss tells G7 countries to tighten sanctions over war in Ukraine

Ingots of 99.99% pure gold at the Krastsvetmet non-ferrous metals plant in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, Russia. Reuters
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Britain sought to step up pressure on the Kremlin on Tuesday by urging allies to go after Russian gold in the next round of sanctions over the war in Ukraine.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also told G7 countries to extend sanctions to cover sea trade and more of the banking sector, after evidence of apparent atrocities near Kyiv amplified calls to hit Russia harder.

Ms Truss revealed Britain had frozen more than $350 billion of foreign currency reserves as part of sanctions she said were “pushing the Russian economy back into the Soviet era”.

But she said another of her demands would be “going after new industries filling Putin’s war chest, like gold”.

She did not give further details, but her call comes after the G7 raised concerns at its last meeting about Russia’s central bank using gold to evade sanctions.

The G7 countries — the UK, US, Germany, France, Italy, Canada and Japan — are expected to discuss further sanctions on Thursday, on the sidelines of a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is heading to Brussels, said the Russian attacks in the war were part of a “deliberate campaign”.

"What we've seen in Bucha is not the random act of a rogue unit. It's a deliberate campaign to kill, to torture, to rape, to commit atrocities. The reports are more than credible. The evidence is there for the world to see," he said.

European sanctions introduced so far have hit Russia’s financial sector and prominent individuals in the Kremlin’s inner circle. The EU on Tuesday proposed banning coal in its first move against the Russian energy sector.

Ms Truss said sanctions needed to be tightened because “the only way to end this war is for Putin to lose in Ukraine”.

“Although Russian troops have been defeated in their initial assault on Kyiv, there has been no change in their intent and ambition,” she said during a visit to Poland on Tuesday.

British military intelligence said in a daily update that Russian units withdrawing from around Kyiv were likely to need significant re-equipping and refurbishment before they can return to the battlefield.

It said low-level fighting was likely to continue in some of the areas recently recaptured by Ukraine but that this was expected to subside over the coming week.

Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Russia appeared to be reorganising its forces for a renewed push in southern and eastern Ukraine and an attempt to secure a land bridge between Crimea and the Donbas.

“This is a crucial phase of the war,” he said, as he predicted allies would provide further military support including anti-tank weapons to Ukraine.

Ms Truss meanwhile said the UK was working with Poland and Ukraine to increase co-operation in cybersecurity.

It came as the UK government published a document setting out what it said was “malign cyber activity” by three intelligence services in Russia; the FSB, SVR and GRU.

It accused the FSB, the successor of the Soviet-era KGB, of running a cyber operations squad called Centre 16 which has targeted critical infrastructure in Europe, the Americas and Asia.

The UK has also discovered Centre 16 hackers trying to gain unauthorised access to the computers of dissidents, political opponents and the Russian public, it said.

Updated: April 05, 2022, 2:35 PM
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