Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, while predictable, is a horrifying and unprovoked attack on a peaceful democracy. Governments across the world have reacted in their own ways and Her Majesty’s government has been very active not only in bringing forward measures ourselves, but also in trying to lead and co-ordinate responses from others.
HM Government has taken a number of steps. The assets of all Russian banks have been frozen; Russian companies have been prevented from borrowing on UK markets; Russian banks have been prevented from accessing Sterling and clearing payments through the UK; the export of high-end and critical technology to Russia has been stopped; and Aeroflot, Russia’s airline, has been banned from the UK. We are also looking to speed through the Economic Crime Bill which will enable us to take further actions.
It is heartening to hear that our government and those of the, US, Europe and Canada have made the decision to cut Russia off from the SWIFT global payments system. I hope this will spur the conflict to reach an end, and soon, before there is any further escalation and needless economic harm inflicted upon the people of Russia.
In terms of practical help to Ukraine, the UK has provided military training and defence equipment. We are also providing loan guarantees, humanitarian aid, health supplies and have accelerated visa facilities.
The situation is very fluid so our responses may change without notice. I attended a meeting with the Foreign Secretary and Defence Minister recently, as well as with an aid charity which works in Ukraine, and will continue to monitor the situation closely. It is important that the world does not look away from what is happening in Ukraine, partly for reasons of concern for that country and its people, but also to try to help ensure that President Putin’s ambitions do not extend further.