Russia: How Boris plans to inflict ‘maximum pain’ on Putin with latest sanctions

Boris Johnson calls Putin a 'bloodstained aggressor'

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In recent days the UK, US and their allies have imposed sanctions against Russia after it launched a full-scale invasion of its ex-Soviet neighbour Ukraine. Initial reports from the conflict have claimed hundreds of casualties – civilians and soldiers – with fighting reaching the capital Kyiv.

On Friday the European Union (EU) confirmed that it would be freezing the assets that Putin and Mr Lavrov hold on the continent.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Putin now joins only two other world leaders sanctioned by the bloc: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to mirror the sanctions imposed by the bloc, with talk of a travel ban not included.

It is not known what assets for either man will be affected by the penalties.

Mr Johnson spoke to the leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), on Friday evening, in a virtual meeting.

He said a “catastrophe was engulfing Ukraine” and Putin was engaging in a mission to “overturn the post-Cold War order”.

The PM added it was “vital” Nato was strengthened now in response to what was a “Euro-Atlantic crisis with global consequences”.

He also reiterated his plea for world leaders to take “immediate action” on removing Russia from SWIFT to “inflict maximum pain on President Putin and his regime”.

Sanctions which have so far been imposed against Russia have targeted the country’s economy.

However, they have stopped short of removing Moscow from the international banking system SWIFT – something Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for.

To date, the UK has imposed a raft of penalties against Russian oligarchs and entities deemed key to the country’s economy.

Included are asset freezes on all major Russian banks, limits to how much Russians can deposit in UK banks, and “stringent export controls” for technology sold to Moscow.

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The PM has also promised legislation next week to stop large Russian companies raising finance or debt on UK markets.

In a defiant speech, Mr Zelensky said western nations – and nearby Europe in particular – must go further and “act without delay”.

He said: “Europe has enough strength to stop this aggression.

“The columns of tanks and the air strikes are very similar to what Europe saw a long time ago, during World War Two – something about which it said ‘never again’.

“But here it is, again. Now, in 2022. 75 years after World War Two ended.”

As a non-member of Nato, Ukraine is not guaranteed troop support from the alliance, with countries wary of stoking all out conflict across Europe.

On Friday, Nato announced it had shored up its defences within eastern Europe, deploying elements of its rapid response force on land, sea and in the air.

The alliance’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that more than 100 fighter jets are now operating in 30 defence locations in Europe, accompanied by 120 plus ships and three strike carrier groups.

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