What sanctions has UK imposed on Russia? What Boris Johnson has said about UK response to Ukraine invasion

The purpose of placing sanctions would be to apply pressure on Vladimir Putin

A cabinet minister revealed the Russian invasion of Ukraine has already begun after reports show Russia’s military occupation of the two breakaway states in Eastern Ukraine.

This warning led to a Cobra meeting on 22 February to consider the UK’s response to President Vladimir Putin’s actions.

The UK has been in close discussions with the EU and the US about placing coordinated sanction packages in an attempt to deter Russia from invading.

A map of Ukraine showing the regions claimed as independent by Vladimir Putin and Odessa on the Black Sea. Credit: Mark Hall

What is a sanction?

A sanction is an action undertaken by one country against another in an attempt to stop it from acting aggressively or breaking international law.

Sanctions are developed to harm a country’s economy or the finances of individual citizens and can include travel bans and arms embargoes.

What sanctions will be taken against Russia? 

The UK government will begin to issue sanctions on key Russian figures and businesses.

The UK sanctions were announced at 12:30 pm on 22 February 2022.

Johnson has said the UK will continue to seek diplomatic solutions until the last possible moment and has given Ukraine’s President Zelensky assurances of Britain’s “unwavering support”.

Financial restrictions

One major method of imposing sanctions is to restrict finances.

PM Johnson has announced sanctions against five Russian banks, Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank.

Sanctions will also be taken against three “high net-worth” individuals.

The UK is targeting key Russian banks and allies of President Putin.

Johnson said: “Now the UK and our allies will begin to impose the sanctions on Russia that we have already prepared using the new and unprecedented powers granted by this House to sanction Russian individuals and entities of strategic importance to the Kremlin.

"Any assets they hold in the UK will be frozen, the individuals concerned will be banned from travelling here and we will prohibit all UK individuals and entities from having any dealings with them."

Sending arms 

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has hinted that the UK may be sending more arms to Ukraine, after sending 2,000 anti-tank weapons to help Kyiv in January 2022.

The UK has sent more troops to support NATO members in eastern Europe - but as Ukraine is not a member of the military alliance Britain will not commit forces to fight against Russia.

Boris Johnson tells MPs that by recognising separatist regions of Ukraine, Vladimir Putin is planning "the pretext for an invasion" of the rest of Ukraine.

"We must now brace ourselves for the next stages of Putin’s plan", Johnson said.

He tells MPs to expect a general offensive of nearly 200,000 troops and promised a “further package of military support” for Ukraine.

When were the sanctions announced? 

Prime Minister Johnson has said the UK sanctions announced on 22 February 2022 will only be an initial step as "we expect more Russian irrational behaviour to come".

Johnson said that the UK will review the "lethal but defensive" military assistance provided to Ukraine, and hit the Russian economic interest, in a way for the sanctions to target Russia itself.

Johnson previously said the UK would "hit Russia very hard" and that there was "a lot more we are going to do" if a full-scale invasion of Ukraine happens.

The initial sanctions were announced at 12:30 pm on 22 February 2022.

Keir Starmer welcomes the sanctions but has said the government has to do more and stand ready with more military support for Ukraine to defend itself.

But Mr Johnson said no government could “conceivably be doing more”.

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