Boris Johnson faces calls to go even harder on Putin with sanctions

LONDON (Parliament Politics Magazine) – As he prepares to face PMQs, Boris Johnson is being asked to go further with sanctions.

After the government came under fire for its package of sanctions against Russia, today’s Prime Minister’s Questions will be one to watch.

Boris Johnson was pressed by MPs on both sides of the Commons yesterday to go further in his crackdown on Russian money.

The PM declared yesterday that sanctions would be imposed on five Russian banks and three billionaires, though harsher measures could be imposed if Russia starts a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour’s leader, said “we must be prepared to go further” despite largely applauding the punishments, while Layla Moran of Liberal Democrat called the offer “gruel.”

Jeremy Hunt, the former Conservative foreign minister, cautioned that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have expected and discounted Western sanctions long ago, and that some things that he is not expecting need to be done.

Integrated sanctions, according to the Conservative chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Tobias Ellwood, may play into Putin’s aim to push Russia even closer to China.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has defended the UK’s sanctions against Russia, stating that they are the toughest sanctions regime UK has ever put in place against Russia, and that they will “inflict pain” on Putin.

She claimed that Foreign Office employees worked all night to prepare the package after Russia recognised two separatist areas in eastern Ukraine as independent, a move that alarmed the West.

She said a full-fledged invasion wasn’t seen yet but it was very clear that if the Russian President escalates, the international community will escalate their sanctions.

Mr Putin, according to Ms Truss, “cannot play divide and rule.”

Further penalties are being considered by the UK, including targeting members of Russia’s parliament who voted for the breakaway regions’ independence, as well as increasing the territory covered by current sanctions to encompass these rebel-held regions.

Ms Truss stated that it is critical to “have some sanctions in the locker” in the “quite likely event” that Russia conducts a full-scale invasion.

Everything that can be done was being done to deter  Vladimir Putin, she stated.

Sanctions against Russian Tory donors are not ruled out by Foreign Secretary 

Kay Burley of Sky News points out that the Conservative Party has received £2 million in Russian cash since assuming office, and wonders if these donors will still be sanctioned.

“Nothing is off the table in terms of who we’re targeting,” Foreign Secretary Liz Truss responded.

“I don’t rule anything out,” she explained.

However, she was less open when asked if the money will be returned, adding that all donations are “fully declared.”

Many people who migrate from Russia to the United Kingdom are “not always friends of Vladimir Putin,” she added.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss claimed it is “very likely” that Russian President Putin will “follow through on his plan for full-scale invasion” when asked about the latest UK information.

She also stated that an attack on Kyiv, the capital of Ukraine, is “very likely.”

In the face of an impending invasion, Ms Truss advised Britons to leave Ukraine quickly.

Eleni Kyriakou

Eleni is a journalist and analyst at Parliament Magazine focusing on European News and current affairs. She worked as Press and Communication Office – Greek Embassy in Lisbon and Quattro Books Publications, Canada. She is Multilingual with a good grip of cultures, eye in detail, communicative, effective. She holds Master in degree from York University.