Boris Johnson has told London bank chiefs to expect tougher sanctions on Russia if the crisis in Ukraine escalates, following criticism that Britain’s existing response hasn’t been enough.
Johnson issued the message to executives from banks including Lloyds Banking Group Plc, Barclays Plc and Natwest Group Plc, plus regulators and trade associations at a roundtable in Downing Street on Wednesday, according to a readout from his office. The extra sanctions would have the aim of halting Vladimir Putin’s “destructive” actions, the statement said.
The UK Prime Minister announced what he called a “first barrage” of sanctions on Tuesday, hitting five Russian banks and three high-net-worth individuals, yet the package has been criticised by both Conservative and Labour politicians for being too weak. Its scope has also fallen short of that of other Western allies such as the US.
Earlier Wednesday at Johnson’s weekly question-and-answer session in Parliament, Britain’s premier said the UK would be sending a further package of military support to Ukraine, including lethal aid in the form of defensive weapons.
Johnson’s spokesman Max Blain told reporters that there was “every reason to believe” that Russian troops were already within Ukrainian sovereign territory.
“It certainly appears Russia is intent on escalating this,” he said. “Putin’s actions are clearly designed to establish the pretext for a full-scale invasion.”