- patrick jackson
- BBC News
Britain has imposed sanctions on the ex-wife of Russian President Vladimir Putin and another woman believed to be his current girlfriend over the invasion of Ukraine.
Lyudmila Ocheretnaya, who was married to the Russian president until 2014, and former Olympic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, are facing a travel ban to the United Kingdom and a freeze of their assets there.
Britain has now placed more than 1,000 people on Russia’s sanctions list.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Britain was “working to tighten the screws” on Putin’s “close circle”.
She noted that the UK was “exposing and targeting the suspicious network that supports Putin’s luxurious lifestyle”, and will continue to “impose sanctions on all those who aid and abet Putin’s aggression until Ukraine is victorious.”
Truss said sanctions against Russia will only be lifted when all Russian forces leave Ukraine.
Earlier, Truss said at a meeting of G7 foreign ministers in Germany that allies should go “more and faster” in support of the Ukrainian resistance.
She added that President Putin must face defeat that prevents further aggression – but some analysts have warned that this stance could make a political settlement more difficult.
Earlier this month, it was reported that the European Union intends to impose sanctions on more Russian individuals, including Kabaeva.
Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24, thousands of civilians and fighters have been killed and injured, some 14 million people have fled their homes, and more than six million have sought refuge abroad.
Since her divorce from Putin, Lyudmila Ocheretnaya has benefited from preferential trading relationships with state-owned entities and has made abnormally large fortunes, says the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).
The office notes that Ocheretnaya is still close to Putin and is receiving financial or material gains from this relationship.
Kabaeva is a former Russian lawmaker and chair of the National Media Group, which is said to be Russia’s largest private media company, according to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Foreign Affairs and Development.
The office notes that the National Media Group controls television stations, including Channel One, which are already subject to sanctions.
“She is also rumored to be Putin’s current partner, and it is said that he has tried to reduce her visibility since the invasion began,” the office says.
“For example, two weeks after the invasion, the National Media Group’s website was updated to remove its name, along with any reference to the board of directors.”
The Russian leader has openly denied the existence of a relationship between him and Kabaeva.
Others added to the British sanctions list include Kabaeva’s grandmother, Anna Zatsibilina, and Putin’s cousins.
The asset freeze prevents a British citizen, or any UK company, from dealing with any funds or economic resources owned, held or controlled by the sanctioned person.
The travel ban means that a person must be refused permission to enter or remain in the UK.
The British foreign secretary has been among the UK’s most vocal ministers in setting clear objectives related to the conflict, saying in a speech last month that Russia should be taken out of “the whole of Ukraine”.
Some foreign policy analysts have raised concerns that such specific demands might one day conflict with Ukraine’s interests and could make negotiations more difficult.
The foreign ministers of Ukraine and Moldova are expected to join the G7 ministers at another meeting in Germany on Friday.
Truss is due to travel to Berlin on Saturday for a meeting of NATO foreign ministers, and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of Foreign Affairs and Development says Truss will push for a “reinforced and modernized” model of the Western alliance.
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