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UK to toughen Russia sanctions over Ukraine

Published: Updated:

The UK is to tighten its legislation in order to impose tougher sanctions on Russia amid Moscow's massive troop buildup near Ukraine, foreign minister Liz Truss told parliament on Monday.

“This will be the toughest sanctions regime against Russia we've ever had,” Truss told MPs, saying “those in and around the Kremlin will have nowhere to hide”.

Relations between Russia and the West are at their lowest point since the Cold War after Moscow deployed tens of thousands of combat troops along its frontier with Ukraine.

“Moscow's malign intent is clear, they have massed more than 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian frontier,” Truss said of the growing tensions between Russia and its neighbour.

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“We know the danger is real,” she added, urging Russia “to de-escalate, pull back its troops and engage in meaningful talks”.

The British minister said that legislation allowing the government to target a broader range of individuals and businesses will be in place by February 10.

The move will broaden current legislation, which only allows the UK to target Russians specifically “linked to the destabilisation of Ukraine”, Truss said.

The legislation would allow the UK to take part in an “unprecedented package of coordinated sanctions with our partners” including the United States, the minister said.

“I will not say now exactly who we may target or with what measure,” she stipulated.

The UK is also reviewing investor visas already issued to Russians, Truss added.

The Kremlin denounced the plans as an “undisguised attack on business” and threatened retaliatory measures after Truss gave details in an interview on Sunday.

Truss said she will meet her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on a visit to Moscow in the next two weeks.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to speak to Russian President Vladimir Putin, telling parliament on Monday he would do this “as soon as I can”.

Johnson is reportedly set to travel with Truss to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Moscow has demanded wide-ranging security guarantees, including that Ukraine never be allowed to join NATO.

The West has rejected Russia's key demands such as stopping new members from joining the alliance, but has laid down a raft of areas where it sees room to negotiate with the Kremlin.

Britain is preparing to offer NATO a “major” deployment of troops, weapons, warships and jets in Europe as soon as next week, Johnson announced late Saturday.

Truss said the UK is “combining dialogue with deterrents”.

Ukraine has turned increasingly to the West since Moscow seized the Crimea peninsula in 2014 and began fuelling a separatist conflict in the east of the country that has cost more than 13,000 lives.

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