Wider sanctions regime proposed as foreign secretary warns Russia against Ukraine aggression

Liz Truss said there will be 'nowhere to hide.' Credit: PA

Russia could face new, tougher sanctions in response to any aggression against Ukraine, Liz Truss has warned.

The foreign secretary told the House of Commons that “nothing is off the table” with a proposed sanctions regime the government said goes “further than ever before.”

It came as Boris Johnson's call with Vladimir Putin - in which he said he will warn the Russian President to "step back from the brink" - was cancelled while the prime minister dealt with the fallout from the Sue Gray report into alleged lockdown-breaching parties at Downing Street.

There are around 100,000 Russian troops amassed on the border with Ukraine, a move by Moscow that has caused serious concern around the world that an invasion is imminent.

Should there be no de-escalation, these planned measures, put forward by the Foreign Office, could be used to target senior figures or businesses linked to Putin’s administration.

“Whether you support Russia’s aggressive actions against Ukraine, or you’re of wider significance to the Kremlin, we will have the power to sanction you,” Ms Truss said.

“Nothing is off the table and there will be nowhere to hide.

“This will amount to the toughest sanctions regime against Russia we have had in place yet and mark the biggest change in our approach since leaving the European Union.”

Until now, the UK has only been able to sanction those linked to the destabilisation of Ukraine.

This legislation would mean the UK could "act swiftly in lockstep with the US and other allies to freeze assets and ban travel", the government said.

Earlier on Monday, the prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “The Russian elite should be in no doubt that we have significant powers and will take them further, which will place massive pressure on them should they continue on this path of aggression.”

The prime minister - who is set to visit the region this week - said any invasion of Ukraine will be "an absolute disaster for the world but above all it would be a disaster for Russia."

Britain has been assisting Ukraine with bolstering its defences since Russia invaded in 2014 and annexed the Crimean Peninsula, with UK soldiers providing training and the government supplying weaponry.

Ms Truss - who was due to travel to Ukraine with the prime minister but will now miss out after testing positive for Covid on Monday night - said on Sunday that the prospect of UK troops fighting alongside Ukrainians against Russia is "very unlikely."

But Mr Johnson said he is confident the Ukrainian people "will fight", adding "any Russian invasion will be bitterly and bloodily resisted".