Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has begun, UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid said this morning, making the imposition of Russian sanctions imminent.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the “first barrage of UK economic sanctions against Russia” will be revealed today as he warned Vladimir Putin is bent on a “full scale invasion of Ukraine”.
It comes after Russian President Putin made a televised speech last night claiming Ukraine has no history of being a true nation.
“We are waking up to a very dark day in Europe.”Sajid Javid
“It’s clear from what we have already seen and found out today that Russia’s President Putin has decided to attack the sovereignty of Ukraine and its territorial integrity,” Javid said.
“We’ve seen that he’s recognised these breakaway eastern regions in Ukraine and we can already tell he’s sent in tanks and troops, so I think from that you can conclude that the invasion of Ukraine has begun,” he added.
“We’ve always preferred dialogue and still continue to do so but it’s clear from President Putin’s actions that he has chosen confrontation over dialogue,” Javid told BBC Breakfast earlier this morning.
Johnson met with UK’s emergency Cobra committee this morning, including Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and Defence Secretary Ben Wallace. He also spoke with Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskyy last night.
The Prime Minister is due to give a statement to Parliament at 12:30 about action.
Labour have given their “full support” for any new sanctions on Russia.
“This is clearly a blatant breach of international law and it’s a dangerous escalation,” shadow defence secretary John Healey told Sky News.
“It must be met with immediate sanctions. If the UK government introduce these sanctions this afternoon in the House of Commons it will have Labour’s full support.
“But it’s important also that our sanctions and our actions now to confront Russian aggression are taken in unity with NATO allies and the EU.”
The EU is also set to announce its formal measures.
Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy said he is considering a request from his foreign ministry to break off diplomatic relations with Russia.
Speaking at a news conference alongside his Estonian counterpart, Zelensky urges his European allies not to wait to impose sanctions against Moscow.
The Foreign Office has summoned the Russian ambassador for a meeting amid the crisis, Downing Street said
Russia hits back
Meanwhile, Russia has said it will retaliate if new sanctions are imposed by the UK.
It comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin formally recognised two Russian-backed separatist-controlled regions in Ukraine; he said he would send Russian troops to those regions – Luhansk and Donetsk.
A senior Russian MP has said he believes Russia intends to recognise separatist claims over the entirety of the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions. There is an overarching fear that Russia will try to expand the territory controlled by the rebels, which would lead to physical conflict in the region.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the move “predictable, shameful act”, and the US has stated that it will announce further measures against Russia today.
Ukraine’s hryvnia currency weakened by more than one per cent from the beginning of the trading session this morning, Refinitiv data showed.
David Savage, Partner and Head of Financial Crime Investigations at law firm Stewarts, said: “With the recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent breakaway regions of Ukraine, Putin has triggered the immediate imposition of sanctions by the USA, with the EU and the UK likely to follow suit in short order.”
“It is highly likely, however, that unless international diplomatic channels manage to avoid further incursions into Ukrainian sovereign land, we can expect to see swift and wide ranging additional sanctions, including the removal of Russia from the SWIFT network.”