The British foreign secretary has said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is plunging the world’s poorest “further into despair” as he urges international allies to support his “weaponisation” of energy and food.
During a meeting of Group of Seven foreign ministers in Germany, James Cleverly is set to stress the need to work together in the face of economic insecurity driven by Moscow’s war on its neighbour Ukraine.
Mr Cleverly will accuse the Russian president of exploiting a programme to export grain from Ukraine to low-income countries around the globe – claiming this shows his goal of holding “the world’s vulnerable hostage”, the Foreign Office said.
Before the meeting in Munster on Thursday, the foreign secretary will call for joint action to curb reliance on Russian energy at the Berlin Process Summit on the Western Balkans.
“While we are steadfast in our support for Ukraine, we must not forget that the impacts of Russia’s aggression, interference and hostility extend across the world," said Mr Cleverly.
Ukraine war latest - in pictures
“Putin’s actions are plunging the world’s poorest further into despair, putting global food security on the brink and pushing up energy prices.
“These actions only serve to demonstrate Putin’s true intentions and further unite the international community against his callous plans.”
Putin's inner circle – in pictures
Earlier on Wednesday, the UK government confirmed earlier business associates of Roman Abramovich will be among the latest Russian oligarchs to have sanctions imposed on them.
The foreign secretary said the government is sanctioning four new Russian oligarchs, accusing them of being involved in industries helping to prop up the Russian military amid the ongoing war in Ukraine.
Alexander Abramov and Alexander Frolov, believed to be associated with former Chelsea football club owner Mr Abramovich and previous owners of major stakes in Russian steel manufacturer Evraz, are among those sanctioned.
The pair are believed to have an estimated global net worth of £4.1 billion ($4.7bn) and £1.7 billion respectively, with the government suggesting they have UK property investments worth £100 million.
Oligarchs sanctioned by the UK - in pictures
Airat Shaimiev, who has an estimated global net worth of £902 million, and Albert Shigabutdinov, who has an estimated global net worth of £977 million, were both also sanctioned.
Mr Shaimiev is CEO of Russian transport and construction company OAO Tatavtodor, while Mr Shigabutdinov is the boss of the AO TAIF group, which owns around 96 per cent of chemical and petrochemical processing in the Tatarstan region of Russia.
All four will face a travel ban, asset freeze and transport sanctions.
“Putin continues to rely on his cabal of selected elite to maintain control of his industrial complex and fuel his illegal invasion of Ukraine," said Mr Cleverly.
“Today we are sanctioning an additional four oligarchs who rely on Putin for their positions of authority and in turn fund his military machine.
“By targeting these individuals, we are ramping up the economic pressure on Putin and will continue to do so until Ukraine prevails.”
Superyachts of Russian oligarchs - in pictures
Around 1,200 people and 120 entities have been sanctioned by the UK government in total.
Meanwhile, Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said Mr Putin would be “foolish” to use so-called tactical nuclear weapons in Ukraine and warned Russia would be met with unspecified but “severe consequences”.
Appearing before the Commons Defence Committee, Mr Wallace also rubbished unsubstantiated Russian allegations that Ukraine was possibly producing “dirty bombs”.
“The claims by Russia of the preparation of a tactical nuclear weapon by Ukraine, or indeed facilitated by the United Kingdom or any other power, is not correct and is not true,” he said.
“No one is preparing or facilitating a dirty nuclear weapon, a nuclear bomb. For the United Kingdom first of all it would be abhorrent, secondly it would be against, in our view, international law and thirdly would be totally unjustifiable.”