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Sanctions aimed at Russia have been in place since 2014, following its annexation of Crimea and ongoing role in the destabilisation of eastern Ukraine.

2014 sanctions

Sanctions were imposed in a coordinated move by the EU, which the UK was a Member State of at the time, the US, and other Western allies such as Canada. Sanctions were targeted against individuals and entities (PDF), including freezing assets and travel bans. They also included arms embargoes and restrictions on other trade, such as exporting technology to Russia needed for oil exploration, and restrictions on lending money to certain Russian companies and banks. The third set of sanctions banned investment in, and trade with, Crimea. The Russia (Sanctions) (EU Exit) Regulations 2019 ensured that sanctions relating to Russia continued to operate effectively post Brexit.

Under those regulations, 183 individuals and 53 entities were subject to UK financial sanctions. Several other Russian individuals are also subject to sanctions under the UK’s Global Human Rights, Anti-Corruption, Chemical Weapons and Cyber sanctions regimes.

Sanctions in response to the invasion of Ukraine

In the build-up to the current crisis in Ukraine, Western allies warned Russia that any breach of Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty would be met with unprecedented economic measures. Following Russia’s recognition of independence of the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic and the Donetsk People’s Republic, and the deployment of Russian troops under the guise of peacekeeping operations, initial sanctions were introduced by the West.

On 24 February 2022, Russian military forces crossed the border into Ukraine and continue to conduct a full-scale assault on the country. The EU, UK, US, and other allies, have responded with significant coordinated sanctions, targeting Russia’s financial sector, aviation and shipping, strategic sectors of the economy such as defence, aerospace and energy, individuals close to the Putin regime and those facilitating Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, including actors in third countries.

Sanctions are being introduced on a rolling basis and the UK has said “nothing is off the table”.  

At the time of writing:

Amidst concerns over global food security, the EU, US and UK issued a joint statement on 14 November 2022 in which they reiterated “the target of our sanctions is Russia’s war machine, and not the food or fertiliser sectors… banks, insurers, shippers, and other actors can continue to bring Russian food and fertiliser to the world”.

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