Kremlin says UK economic sanctions are attack on Russian businesses

The Kremlin has said the UK’s threats to introduce economic sanctions against Russian companies and oligarchs linked to President Vladimir Putin were alarming and such actions would backfire by hurting British companies.

The British government said it would sanction businesses and people with the closest links to Mr Putin if Russia takes any action against Ukraine.

“We are very clear that if Russia takes further action against the Ukraine, then we will further tighten the sanctions regime targeting those businesses and people with the closest links to the Kremlin,” Simon Clarke, chief secretary to the Treasury, told Sky News.

New legislation will be brought in this week to broaden the scope of sanctions the UK can apply to Russia to try to deter aggression towards Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Sunday.

Britain has imposed sanctions on about 180 people and 48 entities since Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the threat was an attack on Russian businesses, undermined Britain’s investment climate and inflamed tensions in Europe.

Russia will respond to any such action in a way that would be based on its interests, Mr Peskov told a briefing.

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The United States, the European Union and Britain have warned Mr Putin against attacking Ukraine.

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On the ground in Chernobyl

Russia denies planning to attack Ukraine and is demanding security guarantees including a promise by NATO never to let Kyiv join the alliance.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to speak to Mr Putin later today and Downing Street confirmed he and Ms Truss will visit Ukraine on Tuesday for a meeting with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky.

He told reporters on Monday that he will tell the leader to “step back from the brink” over Ukraine.

Mr Johnson said further incursion into Ukraine would spell “disaster for Russia”.

During a visit to the Port of Tilbury in Essex, the PM said: “What I will say to the president, as I’ve said before, is that I think we really all need to step back from the brink and I think Russia needs to step back from the brink.

“I think that an invasion of Ukraine, any incursion into Ukraine beyond the territory that Russia has already taken in 2014 would be an absolute disaster for the world, but above all it would be a disaster for Russia.”

Read more: Why is Russia worried about NATO – and what does it have to do with Ukraine?

Image: Defence Secretary Ben Wallace and Hungarian Defence Minister Tibor Benko

British Defence Secretary Ben Wallace is in Hungary for talks with the country’s defence minister, Tibor Benko.

Mr Wallace said: “It’s really important that President Putin hears from allies and friends across Europe our disquiet and our worries about what is happening in Ukraine. It’s very important to deliver some clear messages.”

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Speaking in Budapest, Mr Wallace said countries like Hungary need to tell Mr Putin that they will experience direct consequences of any instability in the east.

“It is clear that we all are in agreement that we don’t want instability, we don’t want war in the east, we don’t want casualties, we don’t want migrant flows, we don’t want high fuel prices and high food prices which would inevitably flow from any action.”

Mr Wallace also expressed support for Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s planned trip to Russia on Tuesday for talks with Mr Putin, adding “we need to de-escalate this and stand up for the right for sovereignty of Ukraine”.