Britain Wednesday unveiled a new round of sanctions on Russian officials over the war in Ukraine, targeting those accused of spearheading recent mobilization efforts and the recruitment of “criminal mercenaries”.
The new package of 22 sanctions hit Russia's deputy prime minister Denis Manturov, who London said is responsible for overseeing the country's weapons industry and equipping newly mobilized troops.
It also targeted 10 governors and regional heads in places including Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kalmykia, from where it noted “a significant number” of conscripts have been drawn.
It follows the UK in July sanctioning 29 regional governors for their role in providing financial support to Russian proxy administrations in annexed parts of Ukraine.
Among the other new targets is Arkady Gostev, the head of Russia's prison service, for “supporting the recruitment of prisoners” into Russian mercenary outfit Wagner.
Western officials and Russian rights groups accuse Wagner's head Yevgeny Prigozhin -- a businessman close to the Kremlin -- of personally participating in a recruitment drive at Russian prisons to send to Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on September 21 announced a partial mobilization of hundreds of thousands of reservists to be sent to Ukraine.
Meanwhile, Western military intelligence say thousands of Wagner personnel are deployed there, in what one official told reporters earlier this month looked “more and more like an integral part of Russian forces”.
“They have drafted criminals, including murderers and sex offenders, in exchange for pardons from President Putin,” the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office said.
The new sanctions increase the number of individuals now targeted by London this year to 1,200, while more than 120 entities have been penalized in response to the invasion of Ukraine.
Welcoming the punitive measures, UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly branded Moscow's partial mobilization decision a “desperate” but failing bid to overwhelm “valiant” Ukrainian forces.
“Today we have sanctioned individuals who have enforced this conscription, sending thousands of Russian citizens to fight in Putin's illegal and abhorrent war,” he added.
“The UK will continue to use both sanctions and military aid to support Ukraine in the defense of their independence.