Putin says Western sanctions are 'equivalent to declaring war'

5 March 2022, 17:08

Vladimir Putin described western sanctions as "equivalent to declaring a war"
Vladimir Putin described western sanctions as "equivalent to declaring a war". Picture: Alamy

By Megan Hinton

Vladimir Putin described sanctions imposed by the West on Russia as being "equivalent to declaring a war" during a broadcast on state television.

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The Russian president insisted during the programme that Moscow forces were being deployed to Ukraine with neutral status to "demilitarise" and "de-nazifi" the country.

Speaking to female flight attendants he said: "These (sanctions) are methods of fighting against Russia.

"These sanctions that you can see are equivalent to declaring a war - but thankfully it has not come to an actual war but we understand what these threats are about."

Following the comments, the Kremlin on Saturday afternoon vowed to imposed sanctions to "undermine" British interests in Russia.

Russia's foreign ministry said the UK had engaged in "open confrontation" with Moscow.

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During the TV broadcast Putin also confirmed that Russia would deem a third-party declaration of a no-fly zone over Ukraine as "participation in the armed conflict".

When addressing rumours of plans to implement martial law or the declaration of an emergency situation in Russia, he said: "There is currently no need."

It comes as the UK announced it is "bolstering" its package of sanctions against the Kremlin with "new powers in our arsenal to go further and faster", the Prime Minister has said.

Boris Johnson said the changes will "ramp up the pressure on those criminal elites trying to launder money on UK soil", ensuring they have "nowhere to hide".

The amendments to the Economic Crime (Transparency and Enforcement) Bill being put forward by the Government will "help streamline the current legislation so we can respond even more swiftly and effectively to the current crisis in the way we sanction individuals", the Foreign Office said.

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The FCDO said the provisions will allow the UK to align more rapidly with the individual designations imposed by allies such as the US, Canada and the EU.

This will be achieved via an "urgent designation procedure".

The changes also include shortening the length of time foreign owners of UK property will be given to declare their true identity as part of a new register of overseas entities, from 18 months to six months.

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A further amendment will increase criminal penalties for non-compliance from fines of up to £500 per day to up to £2,500 per day.

As set out in the existing legislation, other sanctions will include prison sentences of up to five years. Another change will commit the Government to publishing an annual report on the use of Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs).

Data on the use of UWOs is already published in the annual Asset Recovery Statistical Bulletin, but the additional report will be laid before Parliament and provide further information beyond how many UWOs have been obtained and their estimated value, the FCDO said.

Mr Johnson said the UK has "led the way" with its package of sanctions against Mr Putin's regime, and is now "bolstering" this with "new powers in our arsenal to go further and faster".

"We will ramp up the pressure on those criminal elites trying to launder money on UK soil and close the net on corruption," he said, adding: "They will have nowhere to hide."

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Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the changes will "allow us to go faster and harder on those closest to Putin, including oligarchs".

"Our message to Putin and his cronies has been clear from day one - invading Ukraine would have serious and crippling consequences," she said.

"We have been true to our word, introducing the largest and strongest sanctions package in our history, but we are not stopping here.

"The changes we are making will allow us to go faster and harder on those closest to Putin, including oligarchs, as we continue to ratchet pressure in the face of illegal and unprovoked Russian aggression."