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UK to impose financial sanctions against Russia's central bank

UK to impose financial sanctions against Russia's central bank
UK chancellor Rishi Sunak said that Britain would take 'immediate steps' to impose new financial sanctions against Russia's central bank. Photo: PA (PA)

The British government and the Bank of England (BoE) announced fresh financial sanctions against a number of Russian institutions including the country's central bank.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Monday that Britain would take "immediate steps to impose new financial sanctions" on the Central Bank of Russia (CBR), Russian National Wealth fund and the country's Ministry of Finance.

The announcement means British people and companies are banned from making transactions with the central bank.

Russian firms will also be unable to issue transferable securities and money market instruments in the UK. The country's central bank has build up $630bn (£471bn) in reserves.

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The UK will have "a power to prevent designated banks from accessing sterling and clearing payments through the UK", the government said. Banks subject to this restriction will be unable to process any payments through the UK or have access to UK financial markets.

In a joint statement, Sunak and BoE governor Andrew Bailey said they were determined to impose "the highest costs" on Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

The government that its package of sanctions "will devastate Russia's economy".

Sunak said: "These measures demonstrate our determination to apply severe economic sanctions in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

"We are announcing this action in rapid coordination with our US and European allies to move in lock step once more with our international partners, to demonstrate our steadfast resolve in imposing the highest costs on Russia and to cut her off from the international financial system so long as this conflict persists."

Read more: How economic sanctions work

Bailey said that the BoE "continues to take any and all actions needed" to support the government’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

"We welcome the steps taken today by the UK government, in coordination with EU and US authorities, as an important and powerful demonstration of the UK’s commitment to the international rule of law," he added.

Other new measures include:

  • A set of measures to strengthen significantly our trade restrictions against Russia

This will include a prohibition against the export of a range of high-end and critical technical equipment and components in sectors including electronics, telecommunications, and aerospace.

  • The extension of financial and trade measures

This will apply to Crimea, the Donetsk People's Republic and Luhansk People's Republic regions in Ukraine.

A view of the Russian Central Bank headquarters in downtown Moscow on February 28, 2022. - Russia's central bank announced on February 28, 2022 it was raising its key interest rate to 20 percent from 9.5 percent as the West pummelled the country with sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. (Photo by Natalia KOLESNIKOVA / AFP) (Photo by NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA/AFP via Getty Images)
Russia's central bank announced it was raising its key interest rate to 20% from 9.5% as the west pummelled the country with sanctions over Moscow's invasion of Ukraine. Photo: Natalia Kolesnikova/AFP via Getty (NATALIA KOLESNIKOVA via Getty Images)

The government added that it's "working with allies to cripple Russia’s economic development in both the short and long term" and "that nothing and no one is off the table".

So far the UK government has hit over 100 companies and oligarchs at the heart of Putin’s regime with sanctions worth hundreds of billions of pounds, asset freezes and travel bans.

The government said that it will soon impose measures on "571 members of the Duma and Federation council" who sanctioned the invasion of Ukraine.

The sanctions will also apply to Belarussian individuals and organisations that have supported the Russian invasion, the government said.

The new sanctions follow a wild weekend which saw the situation in eastern Europe worsen while western sanctions against the Kremlin ratcheted up.

Over the weekend, the UK, the European Union, the US and Canada agreed to cut off some Russian banks from the Swift network — a global payment system that connects international banks and facilitates cross-border financial transfers.

Read more: What is the Swift payment system that the UK wants Russia thrown out from?

Russia’s central bank is also being cut off and blocked from deploying its international reserves.

In response, Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered his country’s deterrence forces — which includes nuclear arms — be put on high alert.

Russia and Ukraine are due to hold a diplomatic peace meeting on Monday in an unspecified location on the Ukraine-Belarus border.

Watch: How does inflation affect interest rates?