Tv network

Keir Starmer calls for UK ban on Russian state-controlled TV network amid calls for tougher sanctions

5 minute read

Keir Starmer has asked the Russian state-controlled TV channel, Russia Today, to shut down its UK operation in response to the advance of Russian troops into southeastern Ukraine on Monday.

The Labor leader’s call follows a statement in the Commons by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday afternoon, confirming that five Russian state banks and three wealthy people in Britain will be sanctioned with immediate effect.

Boris Johnson said Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and Black Sea Bank would all be affected, alongside Russian nationals Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office later confirmed that, in line with the European Union, members of the Duma and the Russian Federation Council who voted to recognize the independence of the breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk will also face sanctions.

Johnson insisted that today’s sanctions are only “the first installment, the first dam of what we are ready to do”, and that alongside the United States and the EU, the UK would be ready to go further if the situation in Ukraine continues to worsen.

An FCDO official confirmed that today’s sanctions package is just a “flavor” of tougher restrictions to come.

Legislation could be introduced to give additional powers to the government, allowing it to target high-tech exports to Russia and prevent the Russian state from issuing sovereign debt in UK markets.

While the sanctions on banks and individuals have been welcomed, Starmer this afternoon joined a chorus of MPs from both sides of the House of Commons who insisted that the government “must be prepared to go further” in the measures against Russia. .

The Labor leader called on the Prime Minister to block Russia from a wider range of financial systems, including the SWIFT system for payments.

He also called on Johnson to revoke the broadcasting license of Russia Today, which is currently allowed to broadcast Russian state propaganda on Freeview television across the UK.

“We have to be prepared to go further. I understand the tactic of withholding sanctions against Putin and his cronies to try to deter an invasion from the rest of Ukraine, but a threshold has already been crossed,” Starmer said.

“A sovereign nation has been overrun in a war of aggression based on lies and fabrications. If we don’t respond with a full set of sanctions now, Putin will once again take away the message that the benefits of aggression l ‘outweigh the costs,’ he said. added.

Responding to Starmer, RT Deputy Editor Anna Belkina said: ‘Always a joy to see Western and especially British politicians finally shed their hypocritical disguise in favor of open interference in institutions they vaunted as being assumed to be completely independent and entirely free from political pressure and interference”.

Johnson insisted that today’s sanctions are only “the first installment, the first dam of what we are ready to do”, and that alongside the United States and the EU, the UK would be ready to go further if the situation in Ukraine continues to worsen.

On Tuesday, the European Union proposed its own set of sanctions in response to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine’s Donbass region.

Anyone involved in the decision to invade, which diplomats say includes 351 members of Russia’s Duma parliament, will be punished, along with the banks funding the Russian military.

Russian state and government access to EU financial markets and services will also be disrupted, as will trade between the EU and the two breakaway regions recognized by Putin.

Former Tory leader Sir Ian Duncan Smith was among several MPs who told the Commons that the government’s current sanctions package should already be stronger.

“If we’re going to hit [Russia] with sanctions we should hit them hard and hit them now,” he said.

“They need to feel the pain of the first part of this decision.”

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey has called for the assets of “every one of Putin’s cronies in the UK” to be frozen and then seized. He also believed Johnson should reverse government cuts to the armed forces and “no longer tolerate” sporting and cultural events held in Russia, such as the upcoming Champions League final to be held in St Petersburg in May.

Labor MP and chairman of the all-party parliamentary group on Russia, Chris Bryant, said he was worried “we’re not going far enough today”.

“In 2014, we were finally soft,” Bryant said.

“We haven’t shown enough determination in the West or in the UK. We have not blocked dirty money entering the UK.

“Everyone in this House will work with the government to put in place much more effective and secure sanctions if the Prime Minister asks for them, but they have to be now.”

Bryant also pointed out that Roman Abramovic, the Russian owner of Premier League club Chelsea FC, has not yet been sanctioned.

Abramovic has been described as a close friend of Putin and the origins of his wealth have previously been questioned by the UK government.

PoliticsHome Newsletters

PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe