Thank God for Brexit! UK finally free issue crucial sanctions now liberated from EU grasp

Truss announces 'toughest' ever sanction regime against Russia

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Boris Johnson’s Government announced on Monday that a new independent sanctions policy will be swiftly rolled out in the UK to allow for prompt decisive action in international disputes. The move, allowed by the UK’s regained independence from the EU post-Brexit, will serve as a trampoline for new measures against Russia’s threats.

Announcing the new policy in a document listing all the benefits of leaving the EU, the Government wrote: “Our new independent sanctions policy means we are more agile when deciding how and where to use sanctions, while continuing to coordinate with our international partners.

“The UK uses its sanctions regimes as part of an integrated approach to promote our values and interests and to combat state threats, terrorism, cyber-attacks and the use and proliferation of chemical weapons.

“We were the first European country to sanction the regime in Belarus and, overall, the UK imposed sanctions against 160 individuals and entities in its first full year running a fully independent UK sanctions

policy.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss also announced plans for legislation with new powers to sanction individuals and businesses linked to the Russian state in the Commons on Monday.

She said that those sharing responsibility for the Kremlin’s “aggressive, destabilising action” could have their assets in the UK frozen.

She added: “We will be able to target any company that is linked to the Russian state, engages in business of economic significance to the Russian state or operates in a sector of strategic significance to the Russian state.”

Britain urged Putin to “step back from the brink” after the Russian build-up of troops near Ukraine stoked fears of war, and warned any incursion would trigger sanctions against companies and people close to the Kremlin.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov called the British warning “very disturbing,” saying it made Britain less attractive to investors and would hurt British companies.

He said: “An attack by a given country on Russian business implies retaliatory measures, and these measures will be formulated based on our interests if necessary.”

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Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, London has become the haven of choice for a river of money from Russia and other former Soviet republics. Transparency advocates have long called on Britain to be tougher about illicit financial flows.

Tensions between Russia and the United States were on display at the United Nations Security Council on Monday where the US-requested meeting on Moscow’s troop build-up allowed for a public face-off over the crisis.

Russia’s UN ambassador said there was “no proof” Moscow was planning military action and that Russia had never confirmed the West’s assertion that it had amassed 100,000 troops near its neighbour.

Vassily Nebenzia said US talk of war was “provocative,” that Russia frequently deployed troops in its own territory, and that Ukraine’s crisis was a domestic issue.

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US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “The provocation’s from Russia, not from us or other members of this council.”

China urged all parties to not aggravate the situation and said it did not view Russia’s troops near the border as a threat.

Although Russia, which seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and backs pro-Russian rebels fighting government forces in eastern Ukraine, denies planning further incursion, it is demanding sweeping security guarantees including a promise NATO never admit Ukraine.

It sent a follow-up to a written proposal made by the United States last week, according to the State Department. Washington did not comment on Monday on the content of the response, saying “it would be unproductive to negotiate in public.”

Meanwhile, leaders are continuing their diplomatic push with phone calls and meetings to try to defuse the situation.

Mr Johnson is set to travel to Ukraine today to meet with Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

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