New UK sanctions for Russia and Belarus

The UK has announced a fresh package of sanctions on Russia and Belarus in response to the invasion of Ukraine – targeting £1.7bn of trade.

The Department for International Trade said new import tariffs will apply to goods including platinum and palladium.

The metals are used to make parts for mobile phones and computers

Export bans will target chemicals, plastics, rubber and machinery. It takes the value of products subject to UK sanctions to more than £4bn.

The new import tariffs will cover £1.4bn of goods while the planned export bans are intended to impact products worth more than £250m in sectors of the Russian economy most dependent on UK goods.

The announcement came after G7 leaders held a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and the US and Canada also imposed new sanctions.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “We are determined to do our utmost to thwart Putin’s aims in Ukraine and undermine his illegal invasion, which has seen barbaric acts perpetrated against the Ukrainian people.

“This far-reaching package of sanctions will inflict further damage on the Russian war machine.”

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said: “Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine is causing suffering on an enormous scale. His barbaric war must be stopped.”

He said the new import and export sanctions would do “significant damage to Putin’s war effort”.

This third round of trade sanctions announced by the UK government – excluding gold and energy – would see more than 96% of goods imports from Russia hit by restrictions and more than 60% of goods exports to Russia under whole or partial restrictions, said the DIT.

The latest move comes as Russia celebrates Victory Day, the commemoration of the Soviet Victory over Nazi Germany in 1945, which is being marked with the annual military parade in Moscow’s Red Square, despite many forces being deployed in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine also means this year’s event has taken on different significance, with Vladimir Putin’s speech likely to be closely analysed.

Western countries have introduced increasingly widespread sanctions against Russia – targeting individuals, banks, businesses and major state-owned enterprises, and exports, among others. Among the high-profile individuals to be targeted has been Roman Abramovich, the billionaire owner of Chelsea Football Club.

Chris Weafer, senior partner at Moscow-based business consultancy Macro Advisory, said sanctions were now starting to have a visible effect.

“These latest sanctions, of themselves, are relatively modest, but of course they add to previous sanctions,” he told the BBC’s Today Programme. “It is the accumulation of sanctions that really is having the impact on the economy.”

Companies are unable to import vital components and spare parts and have used up inventories during the last two months, Mr Weafer said. Some firms were warning of job losses or temporary shutdowns.

“The broader impact on people’s incomes and on retail sales and across the broader economy is now starting to be felt,” he said. “People have been faced with high, double-digit inflation for the last couple of months. And there’s a great deal of uncertainty as to what’s going to happen next, particularly with regards to job security and income.”

The UK has excluded key Russian banks from the UK financial system, frozen the assets of all Russian banks, barred Russian firms from borrowing money, and placed limits on deposits Russians can make at UK banks. Other sanctions have been implemented by the US and the EU.

And more than 1,000 international companies have either suspended trading in Russia, or withdrawn altogether – including McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and Starbucks.

Belarus has been targeted with the UK government saying its leader Alexander Lukashenko had aided and abetted Russia’s invasion.(BBC)

•PHOTO: Boris Johnson, Alexander Lukashenko and Vladimir Putin