Boris Johnson told Nato leaders that London would target the Russian President and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov over Moscow’s brutal attack on Ukraine
Image: via REUTERS)
The UK will personally sanction Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergei Lavrov after Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Downing Street has said.
Boris Johnson told a virtual meeting of Nato leaders that London will target the Russian President and his key ally in Moscow “imminently” over the Kremlin’s “revanchist mission” to overturn the post-Cold War order.
The PM also urged fellow leaders to “inflict maximum pain on President Putin and his regime” by ejecting Russia from the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) network – something which could cripple Russia’s ability to trade with most of the world.
It came as Moscow forces advanced towards the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv and as Nato general secretary Jens Stoltenberg said leaders have agreed to send rapid response troops to protect allies near Russia and Ukraine.
A No10 spokeswoman said the PM told Nato leaders “a catastrophe was engulfing Ukraine, and President Putin was engaging in a revanchist mission to over-turn post-Cold War order” – a reference to Putin’s desire to recover territory lost under the USSR regime.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
“He warned the group that the Russian President’s ambitions might not stop there and that this was a Euro-Atlantic crisis with global consequences,” the spokeswoman added.
“The Prime Minister urged leaders to take immediate action against SWIFT to inflict maximum pain on President Putin and his regime. The UK would introduce sanctions against President Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov imminently, on top of the sanctions package the UK announced yesterday, he said.
“The Prime Minister added that the world must make certain President Putin would fail in this act of aggression. Ukraine was showing strong resistance. He added that there could no normalisation of relations with Russia after this act.”
The bulk of Russian forces advancing on Kyiv remain “more than 50km from the centre of the city”, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said.
In an intelligence update posted about 3.30pm, the MoD said the Russian armoured forces had “opened a new route of advance towards Kyiv having failed to capture Chernihiv”.
The report said there were “reports of sporadic clashes in the northern suburbs of Kyiv, which we continue to monitor” but that “the bulk of Russian forces advancing on Kyiv remain more than 50km from the centre of the city”.
The UK’s Chief of Defence Intelligence Sir Jim Hockenhull said Russian forces were targeting the Ukrainian capital in a bid to install a pro-Moscow government.
He said: “Russian forces continue to advance on two axis towards Kyiv. Their objective is to encircle the capital, to secure control of the population and change the regime.
“Russia continues to conduct strikes across Ukraine. Overnight Russia launched a concerted series of strikes on targets in Kyiv. Multiple Rocket Launchers have been employed in Chernihiv and Kharkiv.
“Ukrainian Armed Forces continue to offer strong resistance, focusing on the defence of key cities throughout Ukraine.”
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He did not say how many troops would be deployed, but confirmed that the move would involve land, sea and air power.
Mr Stoltenberg told a press conference: “We call on Russia to stop this senseless war immediately.”
He warned that “the Kremlin’s objectives are not limited to Ukraine” and that “we are facing a new normal in European security where Russia openly contests the European security order and uses force to pursue its objectives”.
“President Putin’s decision to pursue his aggression against Ukraine is a terrible strategic mistake,” said the head of Nato.
He added that although significant sanctions had already been announced “we must stand ready to do more, even if it means we have to pay a price, because we are in this for the long haul”.
Earlier today, EU leaders backed an asset freeze on a series of Russian figures including Putin and Lavrov.
UEFA, meanwhile, has confirmed the Champions League has been moved from the Gazprom arena in St Petersburg to Stade de France, in Paris.