The United Kingdom has wielded the big stick against Russia by freezing assets worth more than £18 billion ($20.5 billion) held by Russian oligarchs and businesses sanctioned over Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, the British government said on Thursday.
With the singular move, Russia has overtaken Libya and Iran to become Britain’s most-sanctioned nation, according to the Office of Financial Sanctions Implementation (OFSI), which is part of the UK Finance Ministry.
The frozen Russian assets are £6 billion more than the amount reported across all other British sanctions regimes, the OFSI said.
Among the oligarchs affected in the asset freeze are former owner of Chelsea Football Club, Roman Abramovich and billionaire businessman, Mikhail Fridman, along with President Vladimir Putin, his family and top Russian military commanders.
“The frozen assets are a combination of shareholdings in companies and cash held in bank accounts. It does not include physical assets such as real estate or assets held in Crown Dependencies such as Guernsey and Jersey,” the OFSI said in a report.
“The government has sanctioned 95% of Russian exports to Britain and all imports of Russian oil and gas will stop by the end of 2022.
“We have imposed the most severe sanctions ever on Russia and it is crippling their war machine,” a junior government minister in the Treasury Department, Andrew Griffith, said in a statement.
“Our message is clear: we will not allow Putin to succeed in this brutal war.
“Britain has so far sanctioned more than 1,200 individuals including high-profile businessmen and prominent politicians and more than 120 entities in Russia,” he added.