Britain rallies EU allies in push for fresh sanctions against top Russian spies

Posted On: 
9th November 2018

Britain is calling on its EU allies to approve tough new sanctions on senior figures in Russia’s international spy network.

Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt met European foreign ministers last month
Credit: 
PA

The new regime, aimed at restricting the use of chemical weapons, would give states powers to freeze the assets and impose travel bans on those at the top of President Putin’s military spy network, the GRU.

The move comes in response to the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in Saisbury earlier this year.

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According to the Times, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt is seeking the support of France and Germany, and discussed the new measures with ministers from former Soviet states, including Hungary, in London last month.

Tory MP Bob Seely, a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, called on ministers to ensure that any sanctions target those ultimately responsible.

He said: “You clearly need a balance between what is achievable and what is realistic, but it needs to be effective and credible.

“At the very least you need to have a system which includes the military and political chain of command for those responsible, up to and including the seniors.

“If not, you will have a system whereby the people at the bottom get to carry the can for those at the top.

“No one is realistically talking about putting heads of state on trial, but if you don’t have senior military officers and political facilitators included, such a system is not credible.

“To make it robust you need to give it teeth. You need to send signals to authoritarian states that if the senior military and political support staff are implicit they will pay an individual price.”