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Boris Johnson has announced that the UK will send a “further package of military support to Ukraine” after Russia’s invasion.
Speaking ahead of Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday he confirmed this will “include lethal aid” after Putin sent troops into the Donbas region earlier this week.
“In light of the increasingly threatening behaviour from Russia, and in line with our previous support, the UK will shortly be providing a further package of military support to Ukraine,” Johnson told MPs.
“This will include lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons and non-lethal aid.”
The Prime Minister also said “even more” sanctions against Russia are coming when challenged to “unleash a full package” of measures by Labour leader Keir Starmer.
“We all want to deter aggression in Europe. We are not dealing with breakaway republics. Putin is not a peacekeeper, a sovereign nation has been invaded,” Starmer said.
“The Prime Minister promised that in the event of an invasion he would unleash a full package of sanctions. If not now, then when?”
Johnson has faced criticism from across the House of Commons that Russia sanctions announced yesterday do not go far enough. But today the Prime Minister defended the measures.
“I don’t think people quite realise the UK is out in front, we have sanctioned 275 individuals already,” he said.
“Yesterday we announced measures that place banks worth £37billion under sanctions in addition to more oligarchs.
“There is more to come and we will be stopping Russia from raising sovereign debt, stopping companies from raising money and stopping Russian companies [from] even clearing in sterling and dollars on international markets.”
Starmer insisted that it was now time to impose more sanctions, including a ban on trading in Russian sovereign debt and excluding Russia from financial mechanisms like the Switch payment system, because there had “already been an invasion”.
“There is clearly concern across the House that his strategy, I accept unintentionally, could send the wrong message,” he said.
Johnson said there is still hope that Putin will “see sense” and that de-escalation is still possible.
“But we are ready very rapidly to escalate our sanctions as I have set out,” he added.
Johnson also said that “any Russian entity, any Russian individual” and members of the Russian parliament could now be targeted by UK sanctions if needed.
Earlier Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK will make it “as painful as possible” for Russia if Putin unleashes an all-out attack on Ukraine, and the government has further measures “in the locker” to use after the initial tranche of sanctions was attacked as being too weak.
She said the Russian leader appears to be “hell-bent” on invading his neighbour, including potentially an assault on the capital Kyiv.
”This is about inflicting pain on Putin and degrading the Russian economic system over time, targeting people that are close to Putin,” Truss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
“What we have to do is make it as painful as possible, both by supplying support to the Ukrainian government in terms of defensive weapons, in terms of economic support, and by imposing economic costs.”
Earlier Defence Secretary Ben Wallace described Putin as having gone “full tonto” as he chatted with serving military personnel at the Horse Guards building in Westminster.
Wallace said the Russian president has made the mistake of having no allies in his actions, comparing him to Tsar Nicholas I during the Crimean War.
“It’s going to be a busy Army”, he told the soldiers. “Unfortunately we’ve got a busy adversary now in Putin, who has gone full tonto.”
“The Scots Guards kicked the backside of Tsar Nicholas I in 1853 in Crimea – we can always do it again,” Wallace added.
Yesterday Johnson announced sanctions targeting three “very high net wealth individuals” – Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg – who are described as “cronies” of the Russian president.
The measures, which include UK asset freezes, a travel ban and prohibition on British individuals and businesses dealing with them, were also tabled against Russian banks Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank.
But Labour’s shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said they should have gone further, saying: “I think the mood of the entire House of Commons yesterday was that the Government were not being strong enough.”
Elsewhere Germany took the significant step of cancelling the certification of the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia, seen as a major economic blow to Moscow.
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