The UK government has expanded its sanctions against Russia to include punitive import tariffs on Russian precious metals, as well as export bans on certain UK products, to increase economic pressure on Moscow over the invasion of Ukraine.
The third wave of sanctions was announced by the Department for International Trade just hours ahead of Russia’s 9 May Victory Day celebrations, when the country celebrates the end of the second world war with military parades and when President Vladimir Putin is expected to repackage details of the war in Ukraine to citizens.
The latest £1.7bn sanctions on Russia and neighbouring Belarus – which has joined in the invasion of Ukraine and been used as a base for Russian soldiers – are aimed at knocking Putin’s ability to fund his war.
The announcement came shortly after G7 leaders, including Boris Johnson and US President Joe Biden, held a video call with Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, in a show of unity with the country ahead of the Kremlin’s Victory Day parades.
The new package of restrictions includes £1.4bn of UK import tariffs – border taxes paid by buyers on goods shipped from Russia – that will affect imports of platinum, palladium and other products including chemicals from Russia.
The international trade department said Russia was highly dependent on the UK for exports of the precious metals, which will be subject to additional 35 percentage point tariffs.
The government will also ban the export of more than £250m of goods in sectors where the Russian economy is most dependent on UK products, including key materials like chemicals, plastics, rubber and machinery.
The latest measures, announced by the international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, bring the total value of products subject to full or partial trade sanctions since Russia’s invasion to more than £4bn.
Previous rounds of measures have targeted the energy sector, and have also included an asset freeze on Russia’s largest bank, and sanctions against people and organisations principally involved with information and media.
Trevelyan said: “This far-reaching package of sanctions will inflict further damage on the Russian war machine.
“It is part of a wider coordinated effort by the many countries around the world who are horrified by Russia’s conduct and determined to bring to bear our economic might to persuade Putin to change course.”
Sunak said: “Working closely with our allies, we can and will thwart Putin’s ambitions.”