Britain snarls back: Woeful EU blasted for dragging its feet as UK stands up to Putin

Russia: Reaction 'stronger than Putin expected' says Ricketts

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Treasury minister Simon Clarke particularly pointed the finger at Germany in his criticism as the UK government prepares to set out new sanctions to deter Russia’s aggression from spilling across the continent. He also claims that “Brexit Britain” is leading the push at preventing a Russian invasion of Ukraine.

He said: “Brexit Britain is one of the foremost opponents of the actions of the [Vladimir] Putin regime.

“If you look at the EU, it is countries like Germany that are dragging their feet in the response to this crisis.”

Mr Clarke also described Britain as being the one to “tighten the sanctions regime” and “standing up to Putin”.

He said: “We are the ones tightening this sanctions regime, making sure we support our Nato allies and standing up to Putin in a way that is, frankly, leading the continent rather than following it.”

His comments come as the Foreign Office is expected to outline measures to strengthen the UK’s sanctions regime in a bid to target Russia’s financial interests.

Mr Clarke said: “If Russia takes further action against Ukraine, then we will further tighten the sanctions regimes targeting those businesses, and people with the closest links to the Kremlin.”

It is reported that these sanctions could target Russia’s financial institutions and energy companies.

It could also have a knock-on effect on individuals as they could see their assets being frozen or be impacted by travel bans.

Liz Truss said the “number one priority is deterring Vladimir Putin.”

She added: “What I’ll be announcing this week is improved legislation on sanctions so we can target more Russian interests that are of direct relevance to the Kremlin.”

The Prime Minister is also expected to fly to Eastern Europe this week, while Ms Truss is set to visit both Ukraine and Russia in the next fortnight as tensions rise.

In his interview with Sky News, Mr Clarke also rubbished claims that the UK was compromised by the flow of suspected dirty Russian money into London, claiming British politics was “fundamentally clean”.

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Mr Clarke made the comments after being asked by Sky News host Kay Burley about donations to the Conservative Party from Lubov Chernukhin and others donors originally from Russia.

Ms Chernukhin is a former banker who holds both Russian and British citizenship and she donated over £2 million to the Conservative Party between April 2012 and April 2020 making her the largest female political contributor in British history.

In response, the minister said: “No one has taken money from the Russians.

“Let’s be very clear about this. One needs to be a UK national to make a donation.

“Any such donations are declared and properly scrutinised.”

Mr Clarke added that there was “nothing wrong with any person in business having a link with any country, as long as it is legally-acquired wealth”.

He then said: “How they choose to spend it at that point is a matter for them.

“I think it’s important we don’t muddy the waters on this issue. To do so is to undermine a wider faith in politics. I believe British politics to be fundamentally clean.”

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