UK sanctions Putin’s ‘inner circle’ over Donbass
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Tuesday that Britain is imposing a series of sanctions under the government’s “new and unprecedented powers” following Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognize the breakaway Donbass republics.
Five Russian banks, Rossiya Bank, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and Black Sea Bank, were named as part of the “first tranche” of the UK government’s response. Alongside the financial institutions, three “very high net worth individuals,” Gennady Timchenko, Igor Rotenberg and Boris Rotenberg, have had their UK assets frozen.
The three targeted have previously been linked to Putin, with the US Treasury Department having previously designated Boris Rotenberg and his brother Arkady as “members of the Russian leadership’s inner circle.” The Rotenberg siblings have reportedly trained alongside Putin at his judo gym.
The Igor Rotenberg named in the new round of sanctions is the oldest son and heir to Arkady, and is serving as a majority shareholder in a Gazprom subsidiary. Gazprom is a majority state-owned multinational energy company based in Saint Petersburg, currently the largest publicly listed natural gas company globally by revenue.
Gennady Timchenko, ranked by Bloomberg as number 96 on the news outlet's Billionaires Index, is the founder and owner of the private investment Volga Group and was previously a co-owner of the oil-tading Gunvor Group. He is believed to have known Putin for over 20 years, with the US government having previously accused the Russian leader of having held a personal stake in Gunvor.
Addressing Russia’s recognition of the Donetsk People's Republic (DPR) and Lugansk People's Republic (LPR), Boris Johnson warned Western nations must “brace ourselves” for Moscow’s next actions, claiming Putin has “flagrantly violated” the 2014 Minsk Protocol, signed to end the conflict in the Donbass region.