UK PM Johnson invites world leaders to build coalition against Russian President Putin


PTI, Mar 7, 2022, 2:19 PM IST

London: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hosts Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Dutch PM Mark Rutte at Downing Street in London on Monday, as the trio visit a Royal Air Force (RAF) base to meet members of the UK armed forces.

Downing Street said it marks the start of a week of “focussed engagement” with world leaders to mobilise a global outcry at the “atrocities of Russian aggression” into practical support for Ukraine. The three prime ministers will convene for separate bilateral meetings and a joint trilateral meeting to discuss the next steps to counter attacks ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Ukrainian cities.

“In the time since Russia’s illegal and brutal assault we have seen the world stand up tall in solidarity with the indomitable people of Ukraine,” said Johnson.

“UK aid is already reaching those who need it most, delivering essential supplies and medical support. While only Putin can fully end the suffering in Ukraine, today’s new funding will continue to help those facing the deteriorating humanitarian situation,” he said.

It comes as the UK said it has allocated an additional USD 100 million directly to the Ukrainian government budget to mitigate financial pressures created by Russia’s unprovoked and illegal invasion. This grant could be used to support public sector salaries, allowing critical state functions to keep operating, as well as to support social safety nets and pensions for the Ukrainian people. The grant will be provided through the World Bank Multi-Donor Trust Fund, established last week to support the Ukrainian government.

It is said to be on top of the UK training 22,000 soldiers, supplying 2,000 anti-tank missiles, providing 100 million pounds for economic reform and energy independence, and providing 120 million pounds of humanitarian aid including 25 million pounds of match funding to the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) appeal.

The move comes as the UK Parliament is for a vote on Monday on the government’s amendments to the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill, which fast-tracks action against Russian oligarchs close to the Kremlin and with UK assets. The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said that streamlining current legislation will allow the government to move faster and harder when sanctioning billionaires and businesses associated with the Russian government.

“These amendments give us the chance to bring even more crippling sanctions against Putin and his regime,” said UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss.

“The UK has already led the way by bringing in the largest and strongest package of sanctions in history in response to illegal and unprovoked Russian aggression against Ukraine,” she said.

The UK has imposed what it brands as the “largest sanctions package in history” on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine. Most recently, this included a full asset freeze and travel ban imposed against Alisher Usmanov and Igor Shuvalov, two of Russia’s leading oligarchs with significant interests in the UK and close links to the Kremlin. The sanctions also cover Russian President Putin, Sergey Lavrov and more than 300 individuals and entities at the heart of Putin’s regime, and Belarus.

The amendments are designed to remove the test of “appropriateness” for designations, enabling the government to act more quickly and make changes to further facilitate the designations of groups of individuals. It will also remove similar requirements regarding the appropriateness of discretionary purposes of new regulations made under the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Act, speeding up the new sanctions regimes.

The changes are aimed at the UK being able to list all members of defined political bodies such as the Russian Duma and Federation Council.

Meanwhile, the UK Home Office said 50 Ukranians have been granted visas under a scheme for refugees with family links to the UK. British Home Secretary Priti Patel said she was ”doing everything possible” to speed up efforts to issue the travel permits.

“This is the first scheme in the world that’s up and running in this short period of time… This is an incredible scheme and we are doing everything possible, surging capacity across every single application centre across the European Union,” she said.

The UK has said that 200,000 Ukrainians would be eligible to travel to the UK under the scheme, formally launched last Friday. The United Nations (UN) estimates that over 1.3 million Ukrainians are fleeing the country amid the ongoing Russian conflict.

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