We'll cut Russia's economy off 'at the knees' and oligarchs won't stop us, Liz Truss vows

27 February 2022, 11:25 | Updated: 27 February 2022, 13:02

Liz Truss said the West is cutting the Russian economy off "at the knees"
Liz Truss said the West is cutting the Russian economy off "at the knees". Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Will Taylor

Britain and its allies are cutting the Russian economy off "at the knees", the foreign secretary has told LBC.

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Liz Truss said it is part of the UK's two-part strategy to try and stop Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking to LBC's Iain Dale on Sunday, Ms Truss said she wanted to "degrade" the Russian economy, with Western leaders having agreed to cut some banks off from the SWIFT international transaction system.

And she vowed to keep working through Britain’s sanction "hit list", even as oligarchs lawyer up and try to fight back against measures.

"What we are doing is we're working in concert with our partners around the world to isolate Russia from the international system," Ms Truss said.

"We've now imposed the most severe sanctions that Russia has ever seen, stopping access to vast swathes of the Russian economy, and stopping them build up their armed forces, cutting the Russian economy off at the knees.

Read more: Ukraine calls on foreigners to join 'international legion' and fight Russian invasion

Liz Truss defends political donations from Russian people

"The two things that are going to stop Vladimir Putin winning in Ukraine, which is our strategic objective, is supporting the Ukrainians with their defence… we also need to degrade the Russian economy.

"That is what will actually stop Vladimir Putin from winning."

Ukraine has claimed 4,300 Russians have lost their lives in the invasion, though this figure is not independently verified.

Britain's Ministry of Defence [MoD] believes it is likely Russian casualties are heavy, and that progress is slower than the Kremlin would have expected.

Read more: Russia 'failed to make progress it wanted and is trying to cover up invasion's toll'

Read more: Curfew extended to counter Russian 'saboteurs' as Kyiv braces for incoming missile attacks

Ukrainian servicemen patrol during a curfew as Russian forces continue to advance
Ukrainian servicemen patrol during a curfew as Russian forces continue to advance. Picture: Getty

Ms Truss praised Ukraine's "resolute" and "brave" defence.

Ukraine says it has lost 200 lives and 1,000 have been injured. The UN estimates more than 360,000 people have fled the fighting.

Ms Truss went on to say that oligarchs, who have hired lawyers in the face of the West’s sanctions, "won't stop us doing what we are doing… won't stop us working through our hit list".

She is looking into the visa situation for Ukrainian refugees amid calls to lift restrictions for those seeking asylum. But asked about Russian-linked donations to the Conservative Party, she said it was important not to "tar every single person who has lived in Russia".

Ex-Ukraine PM: Putin is Hitler of 21st century

On Sunday, the MoD said Russia is trying to encircle Kyiv, the capital. Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy has refused to flee as his military mounts a staunch resistance against the invaders.

Russia is making gains along the south coast, and it is battling in Ukraine's second city, Kharkiv, near the border in the east of the country.

Former prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk told Iain Putin will go down as the "Adolf Hitler of the 21st century".

Earlier, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy said the UK should expel the Russian ambassador, and offer safe sanctuary to Ukrainians fleeing the fighting.

"We think there should be a safe sanctuary scheme similar to the one that was set up after the Balkans, or you can have a visa waiver scheme similar to the one that Ireland has set up that's consistent with our country offering safe sanctuary when they're fleeing war and conflict," the LBC presenter and MP told Iain.

He added that the UK should not be "asking people to complete complex forms, go through bureaucracy, in order to come into our country".