Following the marked increase in Russian aggression in Avdiyivka, the Association of Ukrainians (AUGB) wrote to the UK’s Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson MP, recommending strengthened sanctions against Russia through banning access to SWIFT.

The AUGB also urged the UK Government to continue to support Ukraine through the OSCE and the UN, and to use its influence with the US government to ensure that the free world remains united for Ukraine.

The text below is the Foreign Secretary’s reply.

Thank you for your letter of 1 February about the situation in eastern Ukraine.

I was concerned by the recent outbreak of fighting around Avdiyivka, in particular the deteriorating humanitarian situation that accompanied the loss of power, heating and water. The return to widespread use of heavy weaponry proscribed under the Minsk agreements is also concerning.

We strongly condemned the actions of the Russian Federation in the United Nations Security Council discussions on Avdiyivka earlier this month. 

We will continue to hold Russia to account both in the UN and other multilateral fora, as it is clear that it is supplying troops, equipment and other support to the separatists. 

Russian support has played a significant part in the continuing violence and instability in eastern Ukraine. 

Russia needs to fulfil its own obligations and use its influence over the separatists to ensure they implement the Minsk agreements.

As the Prime Minister has recently made clear in Parliament and in the United States, the United Kingdom continues to stand by Ukraine in full support of its sovereignty and territorial integrity. 

Russia and Ukraine were a key theme of the Prime Minister’s early discussions with President Trump. 

Dialogue between the US and Russia is in the interests of all parties, but the Prime Minister was clear that any relationship with Russia must be conducted both from a position of strength and with appropriate level of caution.

The United Kingdom will continue to argue, in the EU and elsewhere, that sanctions should remain in place until Russia has implemented its Minsk commitments in full. Crimea sanctions will remain until Russia has returned the peninsula to Ukraine.

SWIFT is not a public body or owned by its member states, and therefore the ability of any country to press for sanctions through SWIFT would be limited. Ultimately it is a commercial decision for SWIFT to decide which countries to connect or disconnect from its service. 

The current sanctions regime is effectively delivering a significant cost to Russia for its actions in Ukraine and illegal annexation of Crimea.

Officials from the Ukraine Team at the FCO would welcome the opportunity to discuss these issues further with you.

The Rt Hon Boris Johnson MP


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Ukrayinska Dumka


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