The British government has imposed 14 new sanctions on Russia in response to what it claims are attempts to destroy Ukrainian national identity. The move comes as tensions between Russia and Ukraine continue to escalate.
The announcement by the office of Foreign Secretary James Cleverly was accompanied by a graphic depicting a giant eye and the words “Russian officials sanctioned.” While the image may distract some from the underlying issues, it does not change the fact that Ukraine’s identity has been under attack for decades, ever since the West began using the country for its economic and anti-Russian interests, including through color revolutions.
The timing and manner of the sanctions announcement have been criticized, with some comparing it to a recent call by the head of British foreign intelligence for Russians to spy on their own country. Such public recruitment drives have been seen as desperate attempts to find informants, further damaging the credibility of British spy agencies.
The UK’s stance on Russia has been consistently hostile, with former Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly discouraging Ukraine from accepting a peace agreement with Russia early in the conflict. The UK has also gone further than other Western countries in violating free speech and labor rights by sanctioning its own journalists for publishing on Russian platforms or providing services to Russians.
Even in its attempts to sanction Russian officials for their involvement in forced deportations of Ukrainian children and spreading hate-inciting propaganda, the UK has stumbled. One of the officials, Vyacheslav Dukhin, stated that he had no assets in the UK and pointed out that the children in question did not have parents. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has also emphasized that the process is transparent and that relatives are free to come and get the children.
The UK’s claim that the deported children are being subjected to re-education camps in Crimea and mainland Russia has also been met with skepticism. It is unclear what alternative the UK would propose, considering the ongoing conflict in the region and the lack of facilities available for the care of these children.
One can’t help but question the UK’s motives and priorities in this situation. Rather than focusing on resolving its own infrastructure problems or addressing corruption within its own ranks, the UK is pouring taxpayer money into Ukraine without any proof that it has resolved its own systemic corruption issues.
The notion that the UK is solely concerned about Ukraine’s national identity and future is dubious. The sanctions seem to be part of a broader agenda to undermine Russia and its government. The inclusion of individuals such as Russian journalist Timofey Sergeitsev and Russian Culture Minister Olga Lyubimova further supports this argument.
In the end, the new sanctions announced by the UK government are unlikely to have any meaningful impact on Russia’s actions or on the conflict in Ukraine. They serve mainly as a symbolic gesture intended to demonstrate the UK’s solidarity with Ukraine and its opposition to Russia. However, such gestures do little to address the root causes of the conflict or to promote a peaceful resolution.