Sunday

17th Dec 2017

UK debates post-Brexit Russia sanctions

  • Russia sanctions could become Brexit "bargaining chip" on a united EU foreign policy (Photo: House of Commons)

British MPs believe the UK should start confiscating individual Russians’ wealth instead of relying on economic sanctions to alter the Kremlin’s behaviour.

“Individuals associated with the Putin regime who are reportedly responsible for gross human rights abuses or violations use British financial and legal services, invest in British property, holiday in the UK and send their children to British schools,” the House of Commons foreign affairs committee said in a report on Thursday (2 March).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Targeting Putin's close associates could "influence those people’s behaviour" (Photo: kremlin.ru)

“The UK government could influence those people’s behaviour by introducing and utilising the civil recovery powers set out in the criminal finances bill to seize assets held in the UK,” it added.

The finances bill was passed by parliament on 21 February.

The UK imposed economic sanctions on Russia as part of the EU in 2014 over its invasion of Ukraine.

It also imposed visa bans and asset freezes on almost 150 Russians, including friends, aides, and officials of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, as part of the EU.

The House of Commons report said “it may be increasingly difficult to sustain a unified Western position on Ukraine-related [economic] sanctions”, however.

“The UK faces the possibility of becoming an isolated actor supporting a policy towards Russia that is failing,” it said.

It said the French elections, with contain two Russia-friendly frontrunners, and US president Donald Trump, who has said he wanted to make “deals” with Russia, were a risk.

It said Russia sanctions could “become a bargaining point during Brexit negotiations” and urged the foreign office to “clarify how the UK would impose sanctions post-Brexit”.

It also urged British diplomats to “clarify whether the Ukraine-EU association agreement will apply to UK-Ukraine … relations post-Brexit.”

The report said the “practical effect of economic sanctions on Russian decision-making is doubtful”.

But it said it would be a mistake to drop sanctions altogether unless Russia stopped its aggression in east Ukraine.

“If you were to lift them, it would set them free and, I think, release a lot of activity, which we would regret,” Alan Duncan, Britain’s deputy foreign minister, told the MPs in a hearing.

“The withdrawal of the existing sanctions should be linked to Russian compliance with its obligations toward Ukraine, and should not be offered in exchange for Russian co-operation in other areas,” the report said.

Russia’s obligations were sketched out in the so-called Minsk ceasefire accords.

But the MPs said these were too vaguely worded and that the foreign office “should be open to considering any proposals that the Russian government may advance to resolve the situation in Ukraine outside the Minsk II process”.

Propaganda

The report said the rise of Russian “fake news” in the UK, in media such as RT and Sputnik, was a “real concern”.

“The UK regulator should continue to take action against examples of outright falsehoods in Russian state-sponsored broadcasting,” it said.

It indicated that the criminal finances bill could also target Russians who were deemed responsible for war crimes in Syria.

But it warned the British government against giving Russia a pretext to say that it was being unfairly stigmatised.

“If the government continues to allege that Russia has committed war crimes in Syria without providing a basis for its charge, it risks bolstering the Kremlin’s narrative that Russia is held to unfair double standards”, it said.

With Russia to host the football World Cup next year, the MPs said there should be no political boycott.

Recalling recent Russian football hooligan violence against British fans and Russian athlete doping scandals, they said that if Moscow mismanaged the sporting event, then British ministers and VIPs should stay away, however.

Malta raises alarm on Russia in Libya

A Russian-backed warlord could start a “civil war” in Libya, increasing refugee flows to Europe, Malta, the new EU presidency, has said.

Stolen Russian billions ended up in EU states

Illicit money flowing out of Russia ended up in almost every single EU state, an investigation has found, posing questions on the integrity of Europe’s banking systems.

Feature

Lebanon crisis overshadows EU aid for Syrian refugees

Lebanon hosts over one million Syrian refugees, and has received some €1bn in EU funds. Caught in a geo-political tug of war between Saudi Arabia and Iran, Lebanon's domestic politics have cast a longer shadow over its Syrian 'guests'.

EU complicit in Libyan torture, says Amnesty

The EU and its members states have signed up to 'Faustian pact' with Libyan authorities in the their effort to prevent migrant and refugee boat departures towards Italy, says Amnesty International.

News in Brief

  1. EU adopts 'track-and-trace' tobacco system
  2. Luxembourg appeals Amazon tax decision
  3. EU leaders agree to open phase 2 of Brexit talks
  4. Juncker: May made 'big efforts' on Brexit
  5. Merkel took 'tough' line on Russia at EU summit
  6. EU leaders added line supporting 'two-state' solution
  7. EU leaders agree to 20 European Universities by 2024
  8. Belgian courts end legal proceedings against Puigdemont

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  2. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% plastics recycling rate attainable by 2025 new study shows
  3. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  4. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  5. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  6. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  8. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  10. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap
  11. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  12. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties

Latest News

  1. Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK
  2. Macron and Merkel take tough line on Poland
  3. Eurozone future needs structural reforms, EU leaders told
  4. Showdown EU vote on asylum looking likely for next June
  5. EU stresses unity as it launches next phase of Brexit talks
  6. Polish PM ready for EU sanctions scrap
  7. Dutchman to lead powerful euro working group
  8. EU mulls post-Brexit balance of euro and non-eurozone states

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  2. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  3. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  4. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  5. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  6. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  7. Bio-Based IndustriesRegistration for BBI JU Stakeholder Forum about to close. Last chance to register!
  8. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  9. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  10. EU2017EEEAS Calls for Eastern Partnership Countries to Enter EU Market Through Estonia
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives