Britain could be doing “a lot more” to put pressure on Vladimir Putin’s “gangster” regime to combat overt and covert Russian activities in the West, a senior MP has said.
Conservative Tom Tugendhat said the UK should follow the United States’ lead in bringing harsh sanctions against close associates of the Russian president in the wake of the chemical weapons attack in Syria and the Salisbury nerve agent incident.
Mr Tugendhat, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, spoke as he joined the chairmen of the five other committees to merge investigations into Russian activities.
The cross-party Russia Co-ordination Group held its first meeting on Wednesday.
Mr Tugendhat told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I am very keen that we respond in a particularly targeted fashion against those who are effectively the oligarchs, the princes around the new emperor in the Kremlin.
“I think it is important we target those who support Putin and his effective gangster regime.
“There is a lot more we can do and the reaction of the recent sanctions from the US on the Russian government were extremely powerful and were very clearly noted by the Kremlin regime.”
Earlier this month the US introduced a wave of economic sanctions against Russian business figures with links to Mr Putin.
Britain, the US and many of their allies have also taken steps to expel diplomats, which has resulted in tit-for-tat actions by Moscow.
Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said relations between Moscow and the West were worse than at the time of the Cold War following the incidents in Syria and Salisbury.
Mr Tugendhat told Today that the decision to bring together committees was sparked by an overlap between work by his committee and the Treasury Select Committee headed by Nicky Morgan into Russian money and its impact on UK foreign policy.
He said it was sensible to pool resources because of the wide spectrum of Russian activities affecting the UK.
He told Today: “We are seeing a country that is operating a wide spectrum of ... effect, by which I mean not everything is as military as the invasion of Ukraine, but the amount of disinformation, the amount of corruption, the amount of diplomatic activity and pressure on states is such that, actually, we are seeing a very real threat to the rules-based order, the rules-based international system that defends the UK.”