British Prime Minister Boris Johnson says the actions of Russian forces in Ukraine appear close to “genocide” as he pledged Britain would be in the “front rank” of nations imposing new sanctions on Moscow.
The US and the EU are both planning punishing new measures against Vladimir Putin’s regime amid a wave of international revulsion at the reports of rape and the killings of civilians by his troops.
Ukrainian officials have said the bodies of at least 410 civilians have been discovered in Bucha and other towns around the capital, Kyiv, recaptured from the Russians as their forces pull back.
Speaking during a visit to a hospital in Welwyn Garden City, Mr Johnson said the latest disclosures underlined the need for the international community to tighten the economic pressure on the Kremlin.
“I’m afraid when you look at what’s happening in Bucha, the revelations that we are seeing from what Putin has done in Ukraine doesn’t look far short of genocide to me,” he said.
“It is no wonder people are responding in the way that they are.
“I have no doubt that the international community, Britain very much in the front rank, will be moving again in lockstep to impose more sanctions and more penalties on Vladimir Putin’s regime.”
The White House said the US and other Western allies intended to ban all new investment in Russia while tightening sanctions on its financial institutions and state-owned enterprises and on government officials and their family members.
The European Commission has also unveiled a proposed fifth round of sanctions, including a ban on coal imports, which could be adopted later on Wednesday once agreed by all 27 EU ambassadors.
Ahead of a meeting of Nato foreign ministers in Brussels, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said sanctions were “pushing the Russian economy back into the Soviet era” but they now needed to go further.
Speaking on Tuesday, she said more than $US350 billion of “Putin’s war chest” had been frozen, rendering unavailable over 60 per cent of the regime’s $US604 billion of foreign currency reserves.