I wanted to update you on the tragic situation in Ukraine.
We have all seen the terrible images of war in Europe, with an attack on a sovereign democracy and a friend.
I want to assure you that the UK government is doing all it can to help and was the first country in the world to offer military assistance to Ukraine – and we have gone further.
Firstly, the government has announced punishing sanctions that will strike at the heart of Putin’s financial institutions and military industrial complex.
Over 120 businesses and oligarchs, worth hundreds of billions of pounds, have been sanctioned.
This was carefully co-ordinated with our allies including the US, the EU, and G7 partners.
Following Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, these sanctions ban Russia’s key industries and companies from raising finance in the UK’s money markets.
They will also stop Russian banks, state-owned and privately owned companies borrowing from UK lenders.
Sanctions have been applied to
- freeze the assets of all Russian banks, with a full asset freeze on VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank, with assets totalling £154 billion and 95,000 employees.
- Rostec, Russia’s biggest defence company, which exports more than £10 billion of arms each year and employs two million people
- Tactical Missile Corporation, Russia’s leading supplier of air and sea missiles, which played a leading role in its build up of forces against Ukraine.
- Uralvagonzavod, one of the world’s largest tank manufacturers
- prevent Russia companies from borrowing in the UK markets, effectively ending the ability of those companies closest to Putin to raise finance in the UK. This is in addition to banning the Russian state itself from raising funds in the UK, as previously announced
- stop Russian banks from accessing sterling and clearing payments through the UK. This is the UK’s largest financial sanction in terms of the size on institutions targeted and is taken alongside the US who are putting in place an equivalent measure, cutting Russian banks off from both sterling and dollars
- convince our EU neighbours to cut Russia off from the Swift global payment system.
- Russia’s flagship airline Aeroflot which, along with all other Russian airlines, charters and registered aircraft, will be banned from the UK
Secondly we are providing military support.
Royal Air Force Typhoon jets are part of the NATO air policing from their base in RAF Akrotiri in Cyprus, from which they patrol over the Black Sea and south-eastern Europe.
HMS Trent is already part of a NATO standing maritime group and further Royal Navy ships are being deployed to other NATO standing groups in both the Baltic and the eastern Mediterranean.
In addition to the Royal Tank Regiment battlegroup that has been in place in Estonia for the last six months, the Royal Welsh battlegroup will be arriving in Estonia earlier than planned to double up our force levels. Those doubled-up force levels will remain indefinitely and will be augmented by the headquarters of 12 Mechanised Brigade, meaning that the UK will have an armoured brigade in Estonia, reassuring one of our closest NATO allies.
In early 2015 Operation Orbital was launched. A UK non-lethal training and capacity-building operation with Ukraine, it provides guidance and training to the Ukrainian armed forces through several advisory and short-term training teams. Initially comprising 75 non-combat military personnel, its initial focus was on medical, logistics, general infantry skills and intelligence capacity building.
The UK has shipped 2,000 anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and has trained 22,000 of its soldiers.
The British Foreign Office is providing up to $500 million in loan guarantees to Kyiv under multilateral development bank lending.
We are also supporting those fleeing Ukraine and my team have been helping constituents stuck in Ukraine to leave safely.
Despite some misleading headlines, we want to be clear that we are helping all Ukrainian refugees who wish to come to the UK.
Maria Caulfield is a Conservative government minister, the MP for Lewes and a former member of Brighton and Hove City Council.
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