Ukraine-Russia: Britain warns Vladimir Putin over chemical weapons and sanctions 386 Russian parliamentarians
Technology minister Chris Philp issued the warning to the Russian president amid concerns the country was fabricating a “false narrative” online in preparation for such a “barbaric” attack.
The Prime Minister earlier expressed fears the Kremlin was spreading a “fake story” the US or the Ukrainians have chemical weapons in Ukraine as a pretext for an attack.
It comes as foreign secretary Liz Truss confirmed 386 members of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament, were being banned from travelling to the UK and any assets they have in the country would be frozen.
Downing Street issued a statement on Friday night saying Boris Johnson had joined with leaders of the G7 on Friday to commit to further increase the pressure on Mr Putin’s regime.
In a joint statement, the G7 leaders agreed to take steps to deny Russia “most favoured nation” status on key products, which No. 10 said would significantly reduce the ability of Russian businesses to export.
The UK will also work towards banning exports of luxury goods to Russia, Downing Street said, with further detail to be set out in coming days.
Speaking on Times Radio, Mr Philp said: “Clearly the use of chemical weapons, especially in an invasion where there are a very large number of civilians, would be an outrage against humanity.
“So I would say to anybody in Russia thinking about this – do not cross that line, do not inflict any more misery and suffering on the Ukrainian people.
“It will trigger an increased response from the West. There’s a dramatic increased response, there’s no question about that.
“I’m not going to speculate about the form that’s going to take or pre-empt it, but that’s a line that Russian governments should not cross.”
The technology minister also singled out the Russian embassy in the UK, which has had a separate post branded “fake news” removed by Twitter, over disinformation.
Under growing pressure for the Government to do more to help the millions fleeing Ukraine, Mr Philp suggested councils as well as families would be able to welcome in refugees.
He said: “We’re going to be making announcements in the very near future about a scheme for UK local authorities, and indeed UK families, to welcome Ukrainian refugees. We’ve announced that principle and the details of how that scheme works will be laid out in the very near future."
It comes amid a growing backlash against the Home Office with refugees struggling to come to the UK.
The UK’s response has been painfully slow in the face of the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since the Second World War, with about 2.2 million having fled Ukraine.
It follows the announcement on Thursday that seven more oligarchs linked to Mr Putin, including Chelsea football club owner Roman Abramovich, were being subjected to similar measures.
In a statement, Ms Truss said: “We’re targeting those complicit in Putin’s illegal invasion of Ukraine and those who support this barbaric war. We will not let up the pressure and will continue to tighten the screw on the Russian economy through sanctions.
“Together with our allies, we stand firmly beside our Ukrainian friends. We will continue to support Ukraine with humanitarian aid, defensive weapons and diplomatic work to isolate Russia internationally.”
Downing Street declined to say whether any of the politicians have any assets in the UK.
The UK has now sanctioned more than 500 high-value individuals and entities since the invasion of Ukraine began. Russian aircraft, including oligarchs’ private jets, are banned from the UK.
Russia has meanwhile continued its social media crackdown by restricting Instagram and claiming posts “calling for violence against Russians” were being “distributed”.
Last week Facebook, also owned by Meta, was blocked for its 146 million citizens.
Friday also saw Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky say Ukraine had reached a turning point and was "on the way to victory".
Speaking in a televised address, he said: "It’s not possible to say how many days it will take to liberate our Ukrainian land.
"But it is possible to say that we will do that because we have achieved already the turning point strategically – we are on the way to our victory."
Ukraine also accused Russia of firing at a settlement in Belarus near the border in a “false flag” attempt to draw them into joining Moscow’s unprovoked invasion.
Its security service said: “We officially declare, the Ukrainian military has not planned and does not plan to take any aggressive action against the Republic of Belarus.
“We appeal to the Belarusian people: Do not let yourself be used in a criminal war.”
In the US, President Joe Biden announced a ban on imports of Russian alcohol, seafood and diamonds.
He said: "We're banning goods from several signature sectors of the Russian economy."
The US president also announced America would add the names of several more Russian oligarchs to the list of sanctioned individuals.
Elsewhere, Russia's ambassador to the UN claimed Moscow's forces had found evidence of an attempt to clear up evidence of biological weapons in Ukraine.
Speaking at a meeting of the UN Security Council convened at Russia's request, Vasily Nebenzya insisted Russian forces had found evidence of a network of "at least 30" biological research labs aimed at strengthening several "lethal diseases".
Mr Nebenzya did not provide any evidence for his claims, which were labelled "laughable" by the US.
Mr Putin separately told Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko there had been "positive" developments in ongoing negotiations with Ukrainian leaders.
Despite this, he also gave the go-ahead for volunteers from the Middle East to fight for Russia in Ukraine.
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