There have been angry reactions in official Britain with threats of intensified retaliation following the integration of Crimea into Russia that was announced by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday.
Despite the threats, the level of economic sanctions against Russia has not been significantly increased by the European Union and the United Kingdom. Russia, as President Obama announced, is however likely to be expelled from the G8 group of countries.
Referring to the developments in Crimea as “the most serious test of European security in the 21st century so far,” at an emergency Commons debate, Foreign Secretary William Hague called the integration of Crimea into Russia a “land grab,” and warned of tougher measures.
“No amount of sham and perverse democratic process or skewed historical references can make up for the fact that this is an incursion into a sovereign state and a land-grab of part of its territory, with no respect for the law of that country or for international law,” he said.
Prime Minister David Cameron warned that the “illegal annexation of Crimea” would send a “chilling message across the continent of Europe,” and said that he would press for strong measures to be taken against Russia at the European Union summit that starts on Wednesday.
The UK has announced financial sanctions against 21 individuals who include several Crimean and Russian officials, including the former commander of the Ukranian navy who resigned after the regime change, Deniz Valentinovich Berezovskiy, and the Commander of the Russian Black Sea fleet, Aleksandr Aksyonov.This includes freezing of the financial assets of the individuals and blocking their entry to the UK.
Mr. Hague also announced that the UK will curtail military co-operation and defence imports.Though it is the EU that has directed the UK’s political response to the Ukranian crisis, the European body is clearly moving ahead cautiously, even on the issue of economic sanctions.