Like you, I am absolutely appalled by the actions of President Putin’s barbaric regime. His assault on Ukraine is an unprovoked, premeditated attack against a sovereign democratic stage. The UK and our international partners stand united in condemning the Russian government’s reprehensible actions, which are an egregious violation of international law and the UN Charter.
We have always been clear there would be massive consequences and a severe cost for any Russian military incursion into Ukraine. As a result of their actions, we have launched an unprecedented package of Russian sanctions and support measures for Ukraine that we have developed with our international partners, and will continue to do so until Putin fails.
Sanctions Against Russia
Countries that together comprise about 50% of the world economy are now engaged in maximising the economic pressure on one which makes up a mere 2%. For our part, the UK has implemented the largest and most severe package of economic sanctions that Russia has ever seen. It sends a clear message that the UK will use its economic heft to inflict pain on Russia and degrade its strategic interests.
- Overall, our sanctions cover more than 1,000 individuals, entities and subsidiaries at the heart of Putin’s regime. This includes travel bans and asset freezes applied to Russia’s leading oligarchs, with a combined worth in excess of £30 billion.
- Alongside the US and EU, have also removed 7 Russian banks from SWIFT, which will ensure that these banks will no longer be able to use SWIFT to transact with banks in any country, regardless of whether that country has imposed sanctions on Russia.
- On top of these financial measures, we have introduced new trade restrictions and stringent export controls, similar to those the US are implementing. We have brought forward legislation to ban the export of all dual use items to Russia, including a range of high-end and critical technological equipment and components in sectors including electronics, telecommunications, and aerospace.
- The Economic Crime Act has come into force, allowing the Government to impose sanctions against oligarchs already designated by our allies, as well as intensifying our sanctions enforcement. This will allow us to crack down on illicit finance and dirty money being laundered in the UK. Our new Register of Overseas Entities, the first of its kind in the world, will have an immediate dissuasive effect on oligarchs attempting to hide their ill-gotten gains, ensuring that the UK is a place for legitimate business only.
We have designed our overall sanctions package in such a way to maximise the impact on Russia while minimising the impact to the UK economy. Unlike other countries in Europe, the UK is not dependent on Russian gas supply. Less than 3% of our gas was sourced from Russia in 2020. The Government will do everything possible to safeguard our own people from the repercussions for the cost of living, and we of course stand ready to protect our country from any threats.
- The UK is providing 3,615 new light anti-tank weapons and a range of other defensive weapons and non-lethal aid such as body armour to Ukraine.
- The Defence Secretary recently informed the House that the UK will shortly start delivering anti-tank Javelin missiles, and that the Government is also exploring the possibility of donating Starstreak high-velocity, man-portable anti-air missiles, which would allow Ukraine to better defend its skies. The decision to supply defensive systems has my full support.
- I understand there are calls to see a no-fly zone instituted above Ukraine. However, I would highlight that such a policy would present too high a risk of miscalculation and escalation that could ultimately lead to the inadvertent triggering of NATO’s Article 5.
We are facing the largest refugee crisis in Europe since the second world war. Back then the UK stepped up and opened their homes to children fleeing the Nazis and so it comes as no surprise that people want to do their bit and welcome Ukrainian refugees now. Thus the Government has made significant changes to the immigration system to allow the rapid implementation and provision of visas to Ukrainians who have been forced to flee their country. There will be no numerical limits on the visas we are granting, and visas will be free and valid for 3 years.
Through the Ukrainian Family Scheme, Ukrainians with family members in the UK will be able to apply for a temporary visa to come to the UK and access work. This scheme will now include extended family and is estimated to welcome in over 200,000 Ukrainians.
The “Homes for Ukraine” scheme has also opened, allowing Ukrainians with no family ties to the UK to come here. There is no limit on this route, which will allow sponsors to nominate an individual or family to stay with them, rent-free, for at least six months. Once people arrive, they will have access to the NHS and other public services. To register your interest, go to https://homesforukraine.campaign.gov.uk/.
The British government has provided over £400 million in humanitarian and economic aid to Ukraine since the invasion started, including 3.7 million medical items, hygiene kits and over 500 mobile generators to provide vital energy to Ukrainian hospitals and shelters.
The Prime Minister has said that nothing is off the table when it comes to the UK's support for Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and indeed the desire of its people to live in peace, democracy and free from foreign invasion.
Putin must fail. I am assured that the UK Government, standing alongside our friends in Ukraine and allies around the world, is using all possible means at its disposal to ensure that he does. I am following these efforts closely and will continue to update this page as new measures are announced.