Tuesday

5th Dec 2023

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

  • 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.

Afghanistan is a 'forever emergency,' says UN head

Afghanistan is a "forever emergency" rendered worse by an isolated country intent on dismantling human rights, says UN refugee agency (UNHCR) representative for the country, Leonard Zulu.

Latest News

  1. EU nears deal to fingerprint six year-old asylum seekers
  2. Orbán's Ukraine-veto threat escalates ahead of EU summit
  3. Can Green Deal survive the 2024 European election?
  4. Protecting workers' rights throughout the AI revolution
  5. Russia, the West, and the geopolitical 'touch-move rule'
  6. Afghanistan is a 'forever emergency,' says UN head
  7. EU public procurement reform 'ineffective', find auditors
  8. COP28 warned over-relying on carbon capture costs €27 trillion

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  3. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  4. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?
  5. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsThis autumn Europalia arts festival is all about GEORGIA!
  6. UNOPSFostering health system resilience in fragile and conflict-affected countries

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Citizen's InitiativeThe European Commission launches the ‘ImagineEU’ competition for secondary school students in the EU.
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region is stepping up its efforts to reduce food waste
  3. UNOPSUNOPS begins works under EU-funded project to repair schools in Ukraine
  4. Georgia Ministry of Foreign AffairsGeorgia effectively prevents sanctions evasion against Russia – confirm EU, UK, USA
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal interest in the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations – here are the speakers for the launch
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers20 June: Launch of the new Nordic Nutrition Recommendations

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us