У России есть сутки, чтобы ответить на обвинения в отравлении Сергея Скрипаля. Какими могут быть санкции Великобритании? The Guardian собрал 10 вариантов.
In a memorandum sent this month to the foreign affairs select committee, before the allegations of poisoning in Salisbury emerged, the Foreign Office said Russia was increasingly defining itself in opposition to the west.
Nevertheless the FCO said: “We want to reduce risk, talk about our differences, and … as P5 members [permanent members of the UN security council], we want to engage constructively with Russia in the interests of security and stability, including on pressing issues such as North Korea and Iran. We are also working with Russia to ensure a safe and secure World Cup for visiting fans, with UK-Russia police cooperation under way ahead of the tournament”.
The events in Salisbury change that calculus, and in the words of the former national security adviser Lord Ricketts, the task now is to “punish Russia in a way that will make Vladimir Putin sit up and take notice”.
The full spectrum of options will be available to the national security committee on Monday, and in the end cabinet ministers’ decisions will be determined by how unequivocal the intelligence agencies choose to be in attributing responsibility to Russia, and agents of Putin’s government.
The question is how much the UK can achieve unilaterally, and how much requires wider EU, Nato and US support, something that will test UK diplomatic heft in a pre-Brexit era. The poisoning of a Russian double agent in a British cathedral city makes news, but many western politicians will be guided by bigger strategic choices including relations over Syria, Iran, Ukraine and commerce.
In ascending order, the UK’s potential options are:
1) Expulsion of diplomats
A minimalist option deployed by David Cameron’s government after the poisoning with polonium of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006. Expulsion of the ambassador would be a major step, but would leave the UK bereft of a high-level conduit to Moscow. Retaliation, including the expulsion of the UK ambassador from Russia, would probably follow, putting UK relations in a deep freeze.
2) Ask Ofcom to declare that Russian media outlets such as RT are not fit to hold a broadcasting licence
Public figures including shadow cabinet members, or the football manager José Mourinho, could be formally encouraged to pull out of the lucrative contracts they have signed to appear on RT. Such a move would be welcomed at least in France, where strong measures have been taken against fake news after allegations of Russian interference in the French presidential elections.
3) Seek support in the EU for sports officials not to attend the World Cup
This would not involve a boycott by footballers, but, in any case, many countries are unlikely to want to follow suit.
4) Introduce amendments to the sanctions and anti-money laundering bill
The legislation could be amended to allow stronger sanctions against human rights abusers, such as the persecutors of Sergei Magnitsky, a Russian tax accountant who died in jail in Russia after revealing details of massive state-sponsored fraud.
The Foreign Office says it already has full confiscatory powers, but under pressure from Tory backbenchers such as Richard Benyon, and the Europe minister, Sir Alan Duncan, said ministers were minded to support a Magnitsky clause once the bill reaches report stage and the technical legal definitions of gross human rights abuse have been resolved. But ministers see this as a symbolic act to assuage public opinion.
5) Freeze assets of Russian oligarchs unable to explain sources of London property wealth
This would be legally risky and might hit as many Putin opponents as allies.
6) Seek further EU-wide sanctions on Russia
Russia, country under the most sanctions in the world apart from North Korea, has proved resilient to punitive measures. It is often a battle to persuade Germany, Italy and Greece to maintain existing EU sanctions against Russia over Ukraine. Most experts say these sanctions reduced Russian growth by only 1% last year. In a recent report the Estonian intelligence agency said Putin “uses western sanctions to shield himself from criticism of a failed economic policy”, saying they help “to some degree to paper over the fundamental weaknesses in the economy”.
In the US, sanctions are being driven by Congress, not the White House, mainly through the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act passed in August. The law aims to punish Russia for its alleged meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
In support of the act, Congress demanded the US Treasury name and shame those who had benefited from close association with Putin and put them on notice that they could be targeted for sanctions, or more sanctions, in the future. No one on the list has been put under sanctions, and it appears to have been derived from a Forbes magazine list of Russian businessmen.
7) Step up Nato presence on the Russian border
The British army already has a four-year rotational presence, but moves closer to Belarus would send a signal.
The Trump administration says it has already asked to increase funding for the European Deterrence Initiative, a Barack Obama-era programme aimed at bolstering Nato’s defences against Russia, by almost $2bn. The White House says it has provided the Ukrainian military with extra arms for east Ukraine.
Nato can also step up the strategic pressure on Moscow by speeding the process of admitting Ukraine into provisional Nato membership through agreeing a membership action plan. Similar encouragement can be offered in the Balkans, a key area of conflict with Russia. The EU foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, is visiting Ukraine this week on the fourth anniversary of the annexation of Crimea.
8) Designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism
In the US, designation results in a variety of unilateral sanctions, including a ban on arms-related exports and sales, prohibitions on economic assistance, and other punitive measures.
9) Cut Russian banks off from Swift
Some Russian banks linked to Iran have been cut off from the international system for the exchange of financial data (Swift). This might weaken Russia’s ability to trade internationally, but Russian banks have switched to a Russian payment system called SPFS set up with larger non-G7 countries.
10) Leak or publish classified material on the scale of alleged money laundering by Putin and his allies
The UK intelligence services have access to a large volume of material, some open sourced, setting out where Putin, his family and business entourage have placed money abroad. It would be possible for the UK government to give an official imprimatur to such information. The downside is that it would be viewed as an attempt to interfere in the current Russian presidential election campaign. Publishing personal information on rival political leaders has been seen as off limits, and might only prompt unwelcome reprisals aimed at UK politicians.