By William James and Elizabeth Piper
LONDON -Britain imposed sanctions on hundreds of Russian individuals and entities on Tuesday, using a new law to catch up with the European Union and United States in targeting people accused of propping up Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Britain, the EU and U.S. hope the sanctions will deter Putin from pressing his invasion of Ukraine.
In the latest round of sanctions, brought quickly after the government’s Economic Crime Bill became law, Britain moved against those close to Putin, such as former president Dmitry Medvedev, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and Russian television executive, Konstantin Ernst.
Russian businessmen Mikhail Fridman and Pyotr Aven, oligarchs who amassed their wealth before Putin came to power, were also put under sanctions, as were Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov and foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova.
Britain said the latest round of sanctions included elites with a net worth of 100 billion pounds ($130.63 billion).
“We are going further and faster than ever in hitting those closest to Putin – from major oligarchs, to his prime minister, and the propagandists who peddle his lies and disinformation. We are holding them to account for their complicity in Russia’s crimes in Ukraine,” foreign minister Liz Truss said.
“Working closely with our allies, we will keep increasing the pressure on Putin and cut off funding for the Russian war machine,” she said in a statement.
She said Britain had imposed more than 370 new sanctions, taking the total to over 1,000 since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24.
Britain earlier said it would ban the export of luxury goods to Russia and impose a new 35% tariff on 900 million pounds ($1.2 billion) worth of Russian imports, including vodka, metals, fertilisers and other commodities.
“Our new tariffs will further isolate the Russian economy from global trade, ensuring it does not benefit from the rules-based international system it does not respect,” finance minister Rishi Sunak said in a statement.
Russia says it is carrying out a “special operation” to disarm and “denazify” Ukraine, which Kyiv and its allies call a baseless pretext to invade a democratic nation of 44 million people.
The government said the export ban would come into effect shortly and it would soon set out which products were affected, but added they would likely include high-end fashion, works of art and luxury vehicles.
Many British firms including carmakers Jaguar Land Rover and Aston Martin and luxury fashion label Burberry have already said they are temporarily shutting their outlets in Russia or suspending the supply of goods.
The government said the goods subject to an additional tariff of 35% had been chosen to minimise impact on Britain while maximising impact on the Russian economy.
The goods include iron, steel, fertilisers, wood, tyres, railway containers, cement, copper, aluminium, silver, lead, iron ore, residue/food waste products, beverages, spirits and vinegar glass and glassware, cereals, oil seeds, paper and paperboard, machinery, works of art, antiques, fur skins and artificial fur, ships and white fish.
The government also said it was cutting off all export finance support to Russia and Belarus, meaning it will no longer issue any new guarantees, loans or insurance for exports. Existing British exposure to Russia through its export credit agency is around 100 million pounds.
($1 = 0.7677 pounds)