Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has said the UK is not ruling out support for personal sanctions against President Vladimir Putin in the event of a Russian incursion into Ukraine.
Ms Truss made the comments after US President Joe Biden suggested moving to penalise the Russian president could be an option in the case of an invasion.
When asked on Tuesday if he could see himself sanctioning Mr Putin in those circumstances, Mr Biden told reporters: “Yes, I would see that.”
Asked if the UK would support personal sanctions against the Russian president, Ms Truss told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday that the Government had “ruled nothing out”.
“We have ruled nothing out in terms of sanctions, and in fact we’ll be legislating to toughen up our sanctions regime and make sure we are fully able to hit both individuals and companies, and banks, in Russia in the event of an incursion,” she said.
We are urging Russia to desist from an incursion and we’re making it very clear that if they were to do that there would be severe economic cost to Russia – severe sanctionsForeign Secretary Liz Truss
“What’s important is that all of our allies do the same, because it’s by collective action, by showing Vladimir Putin we’re united, that we will help deter a Russian incursion.”
It comes after the US and Nato submitted responses to Russia’s demands on Wednesday.
US secretary of state Antony Blinken said there had been “no change” in the position that Nato has an open-door membership policy, or the alliance’s military presence in Eastern Europe.
But both Mr Blinken and Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said there were still diplomatic routes to be taken.
Mr Stoltenberg told a press conference: “We will take all necessary measures to defend and protect all allies.”
He said that although allies were “working for a good solution, de-escalation, we are also prepared for the worst” and were therefore “increasing the readiness of our forces”.
Earlier, Ms Truss called on the UK’s allies to “do more” to support Ukraine.
Asked if she was worried about united action, she said: “We would like to see our allies do more to help supply defensive support to Ukraine and also put those sanctions in place.
“We have made huge progress. I hosted the G7 in Liverpool in December and all of the G7 agreed that there would be severe economic costs if Vladimir Putin invades Ukraine.”
Ms Truss told Sky News that Russia would face “severe sanctions” in the event of an incursion into Ukraine.
“We are already supplying support to Ukraine. We’re supplying defensive weapons. We’re providing economic support,” she said.
“We are urging Russia to desist from an incursion and we’re making it very clear that if they were to do that there would be severe economic cost to Russia – severe sanctions.”
On what these sanctions could look like, she said: “They would target individuals, they would target financial institutions and they would be co-ordinated with all of our allies across Europe, the United States and others.”
Boris Johnson said on Tuesday that Britain was prepared to deploy troops to protect Nato allies in Europe should Russia invade Ukraine, as he warned Mr Putin faced “ferocious” Ukrainian resistance.
Asked about this on BBC Radio 4’s Today, Ms Truss said: “We already deploy troops in Estonia as part of our enhanced forward presence. We are looking at what more we can do. We’re working very closely with allies.
“I had a meeting with the Nato secretary-general in Brussels earlier this week to discuss that, but the UK is already at the forefront of providing forces in Estonia and providing broader support across eastern Europe.
“But be in no doubt, Nato is determined to increase support on the eastern flank to support our Nato allies, who of course we have strong obligations to.”