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UK targets separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine with sanctions

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced more sanctions, with separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine targeted (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced more sanctions, with separatist leaders in eastern Ukraine targeted (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

The UK is sanctioning 178 individuals who are deemed to be “propping-up the illegal breakaway regions” in eastern Ukraine, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has announced.

The Foreign Office has long planned to focus on those behind the Russian-backed so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics, and Ms Truss said the shelling of a railway station in the eastern Ukrainian city of Kramatorsk had spurred the Government into action.

The sanctions are being co-ordinated with the European Union, the Foreign Office said.

Russia has refocused its military efforts in recent weeks as Russian president Vladimir Putin looks, according to Western intelligence, to mount an offensive on the Donbas region following a failed attack on Kyiv.

The Foreign Secretary said: “In the wake of horrific rocket attacks on civilians in eastern Ukraine, we are today sanctioning those who prop up the illegal breakaway regions and are complicit in atrocities against the Ukrainian people.

“We will continue to target all those who aid and abet Putin’s war.”

Ms Truss also said that the latest package of punishing measures would include extending the import ban on Russian goods.

She added: “From tomorrow, we are banning the import of Russian iron and steel, as well as the export of quantum technologies and advanced materials that Putin sorely needs.

“We will not rest in our mission to stop Putin’s war machine in its tracks.”

The sanctions come after Friday’s missile strike on Kramatorsk train station, which left more than 50 dead and many more injured.

Russia is thought to be preparing to mount an offensive to take the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine
(PA Graphics)

The platforms were packed at the time with thousands of women and children seeking to flee westwards ahead of the expected Russian offensive.

In total, the UK Government announcement on Wednesday included sanctions for 206 individuals.

Among those are 178 separatists, six oligarchs, their close associates and employees, and an additional 22 individuals.

Those sanctioned include Sergei Kozlov, the self-styled chairman of the government of the breakaway Luhansk People’s Republic.

The Foreign Office said Alexander Ananchenko has also been sanctioned, who the department named as the self-professed prime minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic.

Russian-allied breakaway forces and Ukrainian military have been fighting in the Donbas, where Moscow has recognised the separatists’ claims of independence, since 2014.

Further family members of Russian oligarchs targeted include Pavel Ezubov, cousin of Oleg Deripaska, and Nigina Zairova, the executive assistant to Mikhail Fridman.

Maria Lavrova, wife of Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, is among those subject to a travel ban and asset freeze.

The Foreign Office said secondary legislation would be laid this week banning the import of steel and iron products and the export of luxury goods.

Separately, the UK Government, Nobel Laureate Nadia Murad and the Institute for International Criminal Investigations were on Wednesday set to lay out a new global code of conduct to improve the gathering and use of information about conflict-related sexual violence.

The Murad Code – named after Ms Murad, a survivor of sexual violence in Iraq – was scheduled to be announced at the UN Security Council in New York.

Last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the council that Russian forces in Bucha had gang-raped women, including in front of their children.

Ms Truss said: “I am appalled by the growing number of reports of sexual violence by Russian forces emerging from the conflict in Ukraine.

“The launch of the Murad Code is a vital step towards helping and supporting survivors and bringing perpetrators to justice for their crimes.”