London to take ‘extra steps’ to punish Russia over Ukraine
Cost and consequences need to follow Putin’s actions, Cameron tells Commons
British prime minister David Cameron speaks during prime minister’s questions in the House of Commons yesterday. Photograph: PA
London will consider “extra steps” to punish Russia “dismembering and disrespecting the territorial integrity of Ukraine”, British
prime minister David Cameron has declared, warning that next month’s meeting of G8 leaders cannot go ahead.
The British government has been criticised for its response to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s action, particularly after a photograph of a document in the hand of an official entering Downing Street revealed London should not impose trade sanctions or freeze assets.
In the Commons, Mr Cameron said EU leaders meeting in Brussels must be “absolutely clear” that the status quo – where Russian forces are outside their bases in Crimea – is “unacceptable”, adding: “I have said cost and consequences need to follow.”
Ed Miliband quoted words uttered by Mr Cameron six years ago when Russia invaded Georgia, when he said: “Russia’s elite value their ties to Europe – their shopping and luxury weekends . . . Russian armies can’t march into other countries while Russian shoppers carry on marching into Selfridges.”
Urging Mr Cameron to go further than he has to date, Mr Miliband said London should “consider asset freezes and travel restrictions on designated individuals, so that Russia is clear about the consequences of its actions”.
However, the British PM does not want to go ahead of the crowd: “I think there are steps that we need to take in respect of the current unacceptable situation, and that we should agree with our European and American partners.”
Emphasising the need for co-operation with Paris and Berlin, Mr Cameron, who spoke yesterday with US president Barack Obama, will meet with German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president François Hollande before the full gathering of the 28 EU leaders in Brussels.
The EU has to be careful, he said, to ensure the Ukrainian crisis is not “seen as a tug of war” between the European Union and Russia: “But we should be in favour of the Ukrainian people being able to choose their own future.
“This has been as much about the Ukrainian people wanting to lean towards a better relationship with the European Union as about their wanting to get rid of the appalling levels of corruption that they have had to put up with in their government. That is the key thing,” he said.