Britain will block Russia from selling government bonds in London as part of a “very serious package” of sanctions that will “cause pain” to Vladimir Putin, Liz Truss said.
As the Conservative Party came under increasing pressure to cut ties with wealthy Russian donors, the foreign minister announced that a ban on the sale of government bonds issued by governments as foreign currency bonds to finance growth and development would be part of a package of are measures announced after Putin dispatched military forces to two areas in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday.
“We have made it very clear that we will restrict Russian access to the UK markets,” Truss told Sky News. “We will prevent the Russian government from taking on sovereign debt in the UK.
“There will be even tougher sanctions against key oligarchs and key organizations in Russia, limiting Russia’s access to financial markets if there is a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.”
The Prime Minister and Treasury had brought in finance chiefs and regulators to discuss how to ensure recently announced sanctions against Russia are effective, the BBC reported. To limit the sale of government bonds in London, the UK needs additional legislation, according to Western officials.
Boris Johnson unveiled a package to freeze assets at five Russian banks and three wealthy people on Tuesday, but was criticized by Conservative MPs for not going further.
Truss said the government was pursuing an “escalating approach” with international allies, adding that she believed Putin was “intent” on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, including the capital Kiev.
“We will agree on another package in the event, which we think is very likely, that there will be a full-scale invasion of Ukraine,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today program Situation come … where we have nothing left in the locker.
She added, “In terms of our target audience, nothing is off the table.”
Former Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt told the Today program that Britain had to surprise Putin if it was to avoid being “two steps behind in the diplomatic chess game“.
“Most important are sanctions – economic and financial sanctions – that are tough enough and last long enough to limit the Russian state’s ability to fund the Russian military. And that means we have to be ready to get in there for the long term.”
The Conservative Party is also coming under increasing pressure to sever ties with Russian oligarchs, who have donated more than £2million to the party. On Wednesday, Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy said there were “too many links between Russian oligarchs” and donations to the Conservative Party.
“Give it back [and] Send a message that we’re serious,” Lammy told Kay Burley on Sky News. “It sends an explanation. If the money is linked to Russia, if there is any indication that some of it comes from oligarchs who may be close to Putin – return the money.”
But Truss said today that the accusation that Britain is not being tougher on Russia because the Conservative Party has accepted donations from people close to the Putin regime is “completely false”.
When asked by Burley on Sky News if the party would return the donations, Truss avoided the question, saying all donations had been made by UK citizens and had been properly declared. Asked if oligarch Roman Abramovich faced sanctions, as Johnson explained in parliament, Truss said the prime minister “spoke wrong” and the records would be corrected.
Asked whether the Champions League final, scheduled to take place in St. Petersburg on June 10, should be held in Russia given the crisis in Ukraine, Truss said: “I’m very sure it won’t be should.”