Date: 02 October 2023
The United Kingdom has intensified its punitive stance against Russia’s continuous illegitimate activities in Ukraine. The UK Foreign Secretary announced new sanctions on September 29, against Russian officials implicated in recent counterfeit elections in the Ukrainian oblasts of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk, and in the unlawfully annexed region of Crimea.
Background: Last year, Russia unsuccessfully attempted to annex these Ukrainian territories following falsified referendums. These activities, conducted under duress, were resoundingly rejected by the United Nations General Assembly in October 2022. The Ukrainian residents in these areas have suffered extensive atrocities at the hands of Russian forces, including torture, sexual violence, and mass forced deportation, with at least 19,000 Ukrainian children reported as forcibly deported from their homes.
The UK’s newly imposed sanctions target individuals and entities, bringing the total to over 1,600 sanctioned by the UK in response to Russia’s invasion. The current designations include the Central Election Commission of Russia, which orchestrated the recent sham elections and last year’s referendums, and its Secretary, Natalya Budarina. Other officials sanctioned include Andrei Aleksyenko and Marina Zakharova, heads of the so-called Kherson regional administration and election commission, respectively.
The sanctions include movement and financial restrictions, aiming to send a robust message to Russia about the international community’s stance on its unlawful invasion and attempts to destabilize Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The UK has unequivocally stated it will not recognise Russia’s claims to Ukrainian territory, reaffirming that Crimea, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson are all part of Ukraine.
Economic Effects on Russia
These extensive sanctions have contributed significantly to Russia’s economic downturn, sending the nation into recession and causing a substantial deficit in the Russian budget. Over £20 billion of UK-Russia bilateral trade is now under full or partial sanction, resulting in a sharp decline in imports and exports between the two countries. Moreover, a significant portion of Putin’s foreign reserves have been immobilised, further straining Russia’s economic capacity.
IIn collaboration with international partners, the UK has enacted one of the most extensive and severe packages of sanctions ever imposed on a major economy, emphasising the global commitment to defending Ukraine’s sovereignty and opposing Russia’s illegitimate actions.
Despite Russia’s continued attempts to normalise its illegitimate control over sovereign Ukrainian territory through sham elections, the international community, led by nations like the UK, persists in opposing such actions. The newly announced UK sanctions reinforce the global stand against Russia’s invasion and its efforts to undermine Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty.