UK ramps up anti-Russia sanctions
The UK unveiled on Friday a new round of sanctions on what it describes as the “inner circle” of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The new measures bring the total number of Russians sanctioned by the UK since the beginning of the Ukraine conflict to more than 1,000.
The latest restrictions include assets freezes, travel bans and other transport sanctions. Despite having an official record of “modest assets,” the Russian president “relies on his network of family, childhood friends, and selected elite who have benefited from his rule and in turn support his lifestyle,” the Foreign Office claimed.
The list also includes Russian gymnastics icon and Athens 2004 all-around champion Alina Kabaeva. The retired gymnast is “alleged to have a close personal relationship with Putin,” as the Foreign Office put it. No actual evidence to back up such claims, however, has ever remerged.
Russia attacked the neighboring state in late February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join the US-led NATO military bloc. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.