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New wave of sanctions will ensure pain for Vladimir Putin, vows Rishi Sunak

Sanctions will ensure Russia ‘pays a price for its illegal activity’, Rishi Sunak says  (PA)
Sanctions will ensure Russia ‘pays a price for its illegal activity’, Rishi Sunak says (PA)

New sanctions will help ensure Vladimir Putin “pays a price” for his brutal war in Ukraine, the Prime Minister said on Friday.

During a meeting of the G7 in Japan, Rishi Sunak announced Russian diamond imports to the UK will be banned, alongside Russian-origin copper, aluminium and nickel. Support for Ukraine was top of the agenda at the summit in Hiroshima, which President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to make a surprise appearance at over the weekend.

“We believe in democracy, freedom, the rule of law,” Mr Sunak told the BBC.

“It’s right that we stand up for those things. I’m hopeful and confident that our partner countries will follow as they have done when we’ve done this previously. That will make the sanctions more effective, ensure that Russia pays a price for its illegal activity.”

The Russian diamond industry was worth £3.2 billion in exports in 2021, but Downing Street conceded that direct imports have been low since the UK sanctioned state-owned miners Alrosa last year. There has been uncertainty whether the EU will go as far as the UK on diamonds, with the trade particularly lucrative for Belgium.

Mr Zelensky is expected to join the G7 summit in person on Sunday. The Ukrainian president’s visit could potentially bring him into contact with India’s Narendra Modi and Brazil’s Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who have not opposed the Russian invasion like their western allies.

It would be an opportunity for him to build stronger links with the Indian prime minister, who has remained neutral, and the Brazilian president, who the US has accused of “parroting” Russian propaganda.

It follows Mr Zelensky’s tour of European capitals in which he shored up support for an expected Ukrainian counter-offensive. It included meeting Mr Sunak at Chequers on Monday.

Mr Sunak warned that the UK is “not going away” as he announced Britain is also planning to target 86 more people and companies connected to Putin.

They include some who were “actively undermining the impact of existing sanctions”, the Government said.

Since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Britain has targeted more than 1,500 individuals and companies. More than £18 billion of Russian assets have been frozen under the sanctions regime.

It means about £275 billion that would have gone to the Russian president’s war chest has been “immobilised”, No 10 said. Both the US and the EU have announced similar sanctions. US president Joe Biden set out plans to ban Russian diamonds and vodka last year.

Britain said it will target companies connected to the theft of Ukrainian grain and the shipment of Russian energy in the new wave of sanctions against the Kremlin. The Foreign Office said the new sanctions are part of a crackdown on “shady individuals and entities” connected to the theft and resale of Ukrainian grain.

Russia’s sovereign assets will also remain immobilised until it agrees to pay for the damage its air strikes have caused to its neighbouring country.

Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “Putin and his supporters must — and will — pay the price for their illegal invasion of Ukraine. That’s why through today’s new sanctions we are increasing the economic pressure on Putin, making it harder for him to wage his illegal war and inflict untold suffering on innocent Ukrainians.

“We will continue to increase this pressure and crack down on all emerging forms of circumvention until Ukraine prevails and peace is secured.

“Our support for Ukraine is, and will remain, resolute for as long as it takes.”

Companies targeted in the latest wave of sanctions include Umatex, which produces composite materials based on carbon fibre for Rosatom that could be used for military purposes, and

Triniti, which has its research and development into laser physics directly funded by the Russian Federation’s State Defence Order. Triniti’s lasers have been installed on tank chassis to dazzle the optics of aircraft and disrupt precision weapons, the FCDO said.

Oleg Romanenko, a lead official at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station who has allegedly been colluding with the Russian government, along with 13 members of the Gazprom-Neft board of directors and five involved in Transneft, has also been designated.

Igor Altushkin, the billionaire oligarch who owns the Russian Copper Company, has also been sanctioned.