UK introduces new anti-Russia law
The UK government has published a law which provides it with extra powers to expand sanctions against Russia amid the Ukraine crisis.
Minister for Europe James Cleverly presented the bill, which “significantly broadens the range of people, businesses and other entities” to be sanctioned in case of “any further Russian aggression,” in Commons on Thursday. He announced that it would enter into force immediately.
The legislation provides grounds to introduce new restrictive measures against people who, in London’s opinion, are or have been involved in “destabilizing Ukraine or undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence of Ukraine,” as well as against those who obtain “a benefit from or supporting the Government of Russia.”
Conducting business with “a separatist group in the Donbas region” and “trading or operating in Crimea” are named among activities which supposedly deserve to be punished.
The sanctions document was revealed by the UK government on the same day as Foreign Minister Liz Truss’ visit to Moscow. This fact seemingly proves her Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov’s impression that their meeting had been “like a deaf person talking to a mute.”
Just hours after her meeting with Lavrov, Truss issued a statement regarding the sanctions, urging Russia “to de-escalate and choose the path of diplomacy,” as well as warning that if Russia “persists with its aggression towards Ukraine, the UK and its partners will not hesitate to act.”
“The UK can now sanction not just those linked directly to the destabilization of Ukraine, but also Government of Russia affiliated entities and businesses of economic and strategic significance to the Russian government, as well as their owners, directors and trustees,” the Foreign Secretary said.
The timing of the document’s publication has angered the MPs. Thursday is the last working day of parliament before the recess, which means that MPs would not have time to consider the legislation.
This prompted Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy to say that the MPs “deserved an opportunity to scrutinize the sanctions,” while his colleague, Chris Bryant, who is known for his harsh statements, criticized the government for its “completely autocratic” actions. Cleverly responded to this “frustration” by explaining that the government needed to move quickly to be able to “deter Russian aggression.”
Over the last few months, Britain, along with its allies, has been accusing Russia of an alleged plan to invade Ukraine – something which Moscow categorically denies.