AFP — UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday said Western powers should tighten the economic noose around Russia until it withdraws all its soldiers from Ukraine.
At a hearing in parliament, Johnson told lawmakers that to lift G7 sanctions simply in return for a Russian ceasefire in Ukraine would go “straight into (Vladimir) Putin’s playbook”.
“My view is we should intensify sanctions with a rolling programme until every single one of his troops is out of Ukraine,” he said.
Johnson said also that the government in London was looking at “going up a gear” in its military aid to Ukraine.
He said that could include the provision of armoured personnel carriers to help Ukrainian forces break out of the besieged city of Mariupol.
Following peace talks this week in Turkey between Ukraine and Russia, reports suggested the UK, France and the United States could sign up to guarantee Ukraine’s security in return for a Russian pullout.
Johnson ruled out giving Ukraine the equivalent of NATO’s Article Five, which says an attack on one member is an attack on all.
But Ukraine could benefit from a different security concept “based on the idea of deterrence by denial”, he said.
Ukraine would be armed so much with Western aid, and “the quills of the porcupine have become so stiffened, that it is ever-after indigestible to Putin”.
“That is the path we are on,” he told the lawmakers, while also defending the pace of the UK visa programme to bring over Ukrainians fleeing the fighting.
The prime minister meanwhile said he understood US President Joe Biden’s frustration when he said last week that Putin could not stay in power.
But Johnson stressed that regime change in Moscow is “not the objective of the UK government”.
“We are simply setting out to help protect the people of Ukraine and protect them from absolutely barbaric and unreasonable violence.”
The government said separately that sanctioned Russian oligarchs and their businesses would now be banned from using Britain’s aviation and maritime industries and engineers.
It immediately used the new powers laid in parliament against the billionaire oil tycoon Eugene Shvidler and Oleg Tinkov, the founder of Tinkoff bank.
Both were slapped with asset freezes and travel bans last week.
The latest announcement comes after the UK authorities on Tuesday detained a Russian-owned $50-million superyacht, the Phi, docked at London’s Canary Wharf.
The 58.5-metre (192-foot) vessel, which was in London for a refit, is registered to a company based in the Caribbean nation of St Kitts and Nevis and sails under a Maltese flag.
But the National Crime Agency anti-kleptocracy unit said its ultimate owner was an unnamed Russian businessman.
At least two oligarch-linked private jets have previously been impounded in the UK.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s legislation adds new routes at our disposal to deprive oligarchs’ access to their luxury toys.
“Our economic and transport sanctions are working to suffocate those most complicit in Putin’s regime ensuring that no one on UK soil can support Putin’s inhuman assault in Ukraine.”
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the new legislation has also extended finance, trade and shipping sanctions imposed on Crimea to Russian-seized Ukrainian territory in Donetsk and Luhansk.