Britain has sanctioned nearly 400 Russian parliamentarians as ministers sought to “tighten the screws” on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said 386 members of the Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, were banned from traveling to the UK and all assets they held in the country would be frozen.
The government initially announced its intention to sanction parliamentarians last month for their support for Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Lugansk and Donetsk.
The move follows news on Thursday that seven other oligarchs linked to Vladimir Putin, including Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, were facing similar measures.
In a statement, Ms Truss said: “We are targeting accomplices to Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and those who support this barbaric war. We will not relax the pressure and will continue to tighten the screws on the Russian economy with sanctions.
“Along with our allies, we stand firmly with our Ukrainian friends. We will continue to support Ukraine with humanitarian aid, defensive weapons and diplomatic work to isolate Russia internationally.
Downing Street declined to say whether any of the politicians had assets in the UK.
The Duma’s decision was first announced on February 22 and ministers have yet to target all members of the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament.
But the UK has now sanctioned more than 500 high-value people and entities since the invasion of Ukraine began, while Russian planes – including the private jets of the oligarchs – are banned in the UK.
Later on Friday, Boris Johnson joined G7 allies in pledging to take action to deny Russia ‘most favored nation’ status on key products, which No 10 said would significantly reduce the ability of Russian companies to export.
The UK will also work to ban luxury goods exports to Russia, Downing Street said, with further details to be worked out in the coming days.
In a speech in Washington on Thursday, Ms Truss said Western allies must continue to do more, including freezing all Russian banking assets and excluding Russia from the Swift global payments system altogether.
“We want a situation where they can’t access their funds, they can’t settle their payments, their commerce can’t flow, their ships can’t dock and their planes can’t land,” she said. declared.
Meanwhile, ministers continued to express concern that Russia may be preparing to use chemical weapons as its forces continue to struggle in the face of fierce Ukrainian resistance.
Mr Johnson warned that the Kremlin was spreading a “false story” that the US or Ukrainians have chemical weapons in Ukraine as a possible pretext for an attack.
Technology Minister Chris Philp told Times Radio that the use of chemical weapons was “a line that Russian governments should not cross”.
“I would say to anyone in Russia thinking about this: don’t cross that line, don’t inflict more misery and suffering on the Ukrainian people,” he said.
“It will trigger an increased response from the West, there is a dramatic increased response, there is no doubt about it.”
A spokesman for the Prime Minister backed Mr Philp’s warning and added that Russia would be hit with a “robust” but unspecified response in the event of a chemical attack.
Western officials believe, however, that the most likely use of chemical weapons by the Russians at this point would be a “false flag” operation to provide retrospective justification for the invasion.
“While the Russians are very likely to have a chemical weapons capability, there is no indication that they intend to use it at this stage in a major escalation of the current conflict,” an official said.
Number 10 also highlighted the need to keep the Chernobyl nuclear site ‘safe and secure’ after Ukrainian defense intelligence alleged Mr Putin was ‘preparing a terrorist attack’ on the plant.
In an online post, the Ukrainians said Moscow could create a “man-made disaster” at the facility under its control before tying “responsibility” to Ukraine.
Mr Philp pointed the finger at the Russian Embassy in the UK, which had Twitter remove a separate post titled “fake news”, citing misinformation.
He told Sky News the embassy was “creating a false narrative that the Ukrainians were planning to use chemical weapons, which is clearly ridiculous and completely untrue”.
In its latest defense intelligence assessment, the Defense Ministry said the Russians were seeking to “reinitialize and reposition” their forces for “renewed offensive activity,” including operations against the capital, Kyiv.
He said Russian ground forces continued to make “limited progress” and “logistical problems” continued to hamper their progress.