By: Georgia Graham
July 25, 2014
David Cameron has warned Russian billionaires who live or own assets in London that they could be “at risk” of sanctions if they have close links to Vladmir Putin.
The Prime Minister said he was “very clear” that if rich Russians living in Britain were shown to be “Putin cronies” they would be in danger of sanctions.
Mr Cameron did not mention anyone living in the capital by name, but Russian billionaires who have chosen London as their home include Roman Abramovich, the owner of Chelsea FC. Alisher Usmanov, a major shareholder in Arsenal FC also owns property in the capital.
His comments came as ambassadors in Brussels discussed proposals to make the City of London bear the brunt of new “restrictive measures” aimed at cutting off Russia’s banking economy from financing and key technologies.
Meeting in intense secrecy, the EU delegates agreed a new “crony criteria” to target Russian oligarchs close to Vladimir Putin’s inner circle who are seen as “benefiting from” those politicians and generals responsible for a guerrilla war in Ukraine.
David Cameron warned that people living in London should not be targeted simply for their Russian accents, but said if links to Putin were proven they would be “at risk”.
He told BBC radio: “I do think we should be implementing tough sanctions against the cronies of Vladimir Putin wherever they live. I sit in these European council meetings and while actually we do have a number of Russians living in London, it’s not Britain holding back these sanctions, it is other countries.
“I think we should be very clear if these people are Putin cronies then yes they are at risk.
“But I don’t think it’s fair just to target people just because they happen to be Russian as has been suggested in recent days – I don’t think that would be fair, you have to target those who are backing his strategy of destabilising the Ukraine because it is that which is of real concern.
“London, Britain, we benefit from being part of a world with rules and important ways of doing things and we have learn that you should not allow big countries to bully smaller ones and destabilise their territorial integrity.”
Last night Russia issued a threat to seize the assets of British companies including BP and Shell as a retaliation against David Cameron’s demand for tough sanctions.
In a mounting war of words, a senior diplomatic source claimed Moscow would “fight back” against any industry-wide EU sanctions by putting British companies working in Russia oil on the frontline.
Senators loyal to Mr Putin proposed freezing the assets of European and American companies in Russia, in response to Western sanctions imposed on Kremlin figures responsible for the annexation of Crimea.
Gold Goliath is not your typical gold dealer.