Russia: Boris Johnson imposes sanctions amid Ukraine invasion
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The former Scottish first minister, who resigned from the SNP, now leads the nationalist party Alba, which on Tuesday condemned Moscow’s move but said Western leaders had broken promises to Russia that NATO would not expand eastwards. Ruth Davidson, the former Scottish Tory leader, reacted in dismay to the party’s remarks.
The Tory peer, who quit Holyrood last year, said: “Bloody hell.
“Salmond’s Alba party asks West to think about Russia’s interests in Ukrainian crisis.”
Neale Hanvey, Alba’s leader at Westminster, said in a statement “respect for Ukraine’s rights as an independent country including the recognition of the rights of the Russian speaking minority” must be balanced with “Russia’s own security interests”.
He claimed: “That requires our acceptance that assurances were offered in the 1990s about NATO expansion eastward which have not been kept.”
Mr Hanvey, who is also a former SNP MP, acknowledged Vladimir Putin’s recognition of Donetsk and Luhansk as independent entities breached the Minsk agreements.
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However, although he spoke of the need for sanctions, he also cautioned the West could end up on the losing end if it did not apply these with what is at stake for themselves in mind.
He said: “Sanctions can and should be introduced and in terms of dirty London money are long overdue but they must be carefully targeted if they are not to be counterproductive to our own economic security.
“The spike in energy prices is already being felt in every household across these islands.”
He added: “A hot war in Europe could quickly spiral with catastrophic consequences stretching far beyond the economy.
“This is a moment for cool heads and careful words if we are to avoid a Cuban missile crisis in reverse.
“We need an intensification of diplomatic efforts, dialogue and restraint.”
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Meanwhile, Mr Salmond is under growing scrutiny over the continuity of his talk show — The Alex Salmond Show — on the Kremlin-funded broadcaster RT, which critics say promotes Russian propaganda.
The channel, previously known as Russia Today, is freely available to British audiences.
Ofcom ruled against the station for inaccurate reporting on the conflict in Syria in 2012. In 2018, it said Mr Salmond had undermined viewers’ trust with misleading reporting.
Its German-language version was earlier this month banned and had previously been taken off air in December as regulators claimed RT did not have the correct license for broadcasting in Germany and that the company had not applied for one.
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On Tuesday, Sir Keir Starmer urged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to address the dangers posed by the pro-Putin broadcaster.
Speaking in the Commons, he said: “Putin’s campaign of misinformation should be tackled. Russia Today should be prevented from broadcasting its propaganda around the world.”
SNP MP Stewart McDonald echoed the Labour leader’s words. He described the TV station as “critical” in supporting and attempting to justify “Russian aggression”.
Accusing the Government of “pretending” RT was the “benign equivalent” of media of the likes of the BBC World Service or France24, the SNP’s defence spokesperson claimed: “They are not. It’s time they went.”
Mr Johnson said McDonald’s thoughts would be “widely shared” though not by “some” in the opposition, adding it was up to Ofcom to decide on the station’s future.
A spokesperson for the regulator said: “All licensees must observe Ofcom’s rules, including due accuracy and due impartiality. If broadcasters break those rules, we will not hesitate to step in.
“Given the seriousness of the Ukraine crisis, we will examine complaints about any broadcaster’s coverage of these events as a priority.”
The row over Alba’s stance on Moscow’s escalation comes amid the announcement of the UK’s sanctions against Russia after it ordered forces into the two rebel-held regions in eastern Ukraine on Monday.
In a statement to MPs, the Prime Minister said the Government will be targeting Russian banks Rossiya, IS Bank, General Bank, Promsvyazbank and the Black Sea Bank, as well as three individuals – Gennady Timchenko, Boris Rotenberg and Igor Rotenberg who will have their UK assets frozen and not be allowed to enter the country.
The EU and US have also imposed sanctions, with Mr Johnson welcoming Germany’s decision to halt the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project, which is owned by a subsidiary of Russia’s state-owned Gazprom.
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