Ukraine crisis: Ukrainian politician thanks Scotland for support, but warns UK sanctions do not go far enough

A Ukrainian politician has praised Scotland for its support as she called on Westminster to beef up sanctions against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Lesia Vasylenko, a member of the Ukrainian Parliament, said she was disappointed Boris Johnson’s Government had not imposed stricter sanctions on Russia after President Vladimir Putin moved troops into the east of the country.

She said she had hoped the UK and US would issue a joint order to ban Russia completely from international banking system Swift or to impose financial sanctions on family members of the Duma – Russian parliament – living in London.

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The UK capital became known as “Londongrad” after large numbers of wealthy Russians took advantage of a visa scheme that allowed people able to invest £2 million in the UK to bring their families to Britain with permanent residency.

Lesia VasylenkoLesia Vasylenko
Lesia Vasylenko

The scheme has since been scrapped amid fears of money laundering and asset hoarding linked to Russia.

However, Ms Vasylenko, who represents the Holos party and is co-chair of the Ukraine-UK Parliamentary Friendship Group, said Scotland had been supportive of the situation in her country.

She cited Scottish MPs' pressure on the Westminster Government and an official visit to Ukraine last month, which saw Alyn Smith, Stewart McDonald and Dave Doogan fly to Kiev for talks at the Ukraine Foreign Ministry.

Ms Vasylenko said of the UK sanctions: “I was honestly expecting more. There was so much talk about it and on the day preceding them before they were introduced that really I was hoping to see something like an agreement between the UK and the US to switch off Russia completely from the Swift system.

Lesia Vasylenko is a member of parliament in Ukraine.Lesia Vasylenko is a member of parliament in Ukraine.
Lesia Vasylenko is a member of parliament in Ukraine.

"I was expecting, if not that, then to see concrete, personal sanctions imposed on the residents of the UK who are family members of Russian Duma members.”

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Ms Vasylenko added: “All of the Russian Duma unanimously voted to recognise these territories of Ukraine are sovereign states. That in itself is a crime.

"It's against international law, so that should be sanctioned. And the best way to hit them hard is to go through the family members – the wives, the children, the siblings, the friends who are living in London and across the UK.”

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However, the politician said she had noticed questions asked in Westminster about the Ukraine crisis often came from Scottish MPs.

She said: “My feeling is that the Scottish Government and the Scottish parliamentarians in the UK Parliament have been really strong in supporting Ukraine. Here, I must say that the SNP’s presence here on the ground in Kiev has has been met with gratefulness by the Ukrainian colleagues in Parliament. And my understanding is that the issues that are being raised around Ukraine, they're often also raised by Scottish representatives.

"The main thing right now is to carry on this policy of standing together and this policy of speaking openly and honestly about what is actually going on in Ukraine and in Russia and who is who, in all of this aggressive scenario.”

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