Russian ambassador threatens EU with fuel freeze
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Western reports continue to convey the feeling a Russian invasion of Ukraine is imminent, aided by Joe Biden’s reported message to Ukranian President Volodymyr Zelensky to “prepare for impact”. But as leaders consider how to act in the East, relations in the West show signs of faltering.
US State Department officials have expressed “dismay and frustration” at the British Government failing to take decisive action against the flow of Russian funds into the UK, according to diplomatic sources quoted in the Times.
Their fingers were pointed particularly towards London – dubbed “Londongrad”.
In an extraordinary attack, a Washington source said Putin’s money is “sitting in houses in Knightsbridge”.
American officials are concerned this could dampen the threat of sanctions raised in an attempt to scare Mr Putin out of action in Ukraine.
The source said: “The fear is that Russian money is so entrenched in London now that the opportunity to use it as leverage against Putin could be lost.
“Biden is talking about sanctioning Putin himself but that can only be symbolic.
“Putin doesn’t hold his money abroad, it is all in the kleptocrats’ names and a hell of a lot of it is sitting in houses in Knightsbridge and Belgravia right under your Government’s noses.”
A report earlier this month from private intelligence firm Dragonfly suggested when it came to pointing the finger for failing to prevent action, it was unfair to point the finger at the UK alone.
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This highlighted that threatened sanctions – including from the US – have had “little impact”.
It further suggested Russia had successfully “sanction-proofed” its economy.
Whether to blame for strengthening the Kremlin’s position or not, some in Britain have added to the criticism of “dirty” Russian money flowing through London.
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Former diplomat and one-time British ambassador to Georgia Alexandra Hall Hall went so far as to suggest this situation risks turning the country into a “rogue regime”.
In a post on Twitter, she said: “The laundering of dirty money through London has been known about for years, but now it’s reached a stage where it’s not only compromising our own ability to hold rogue regimes to account, but risking turning us into one also.”
The amount of money invested by Russian oligarchs into Britain is notoriously hard to keep tabs on.
In 2016, the figure was estimated to stand at around £100billion per year, according to the Times.
The Conservative Party itself has also been questioned on numerous occasions for its potential benefiting from the funds of wealthy Russian investors.
Responding to criticism from the US, Tom Tugendhat MP told the Times: “Protecting Britain means protecting us from foreign corruptions.
“We shouldn’t need the US to call it out.”
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