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PM pledges to step up sanctions on Russia after ‘horrifying’ hospital strike

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B

oris Johnson has committed to impose the “maximum economic cost” on Russia as the Foreign Secretary is expected to say aggression like Vladimir Putin’s must “never again” be allowed to “grow unchecked”.

In a call on Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister joined Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in condemning a reported Russian strike on a maternity hospital in the besieged port city of Mariupol.

He noted that this, together with reports Russian forces had failed to respect ceasefire agreements, was “yet further evidence that Putin was acting with careless disregard for international humanitarian law”, Downing Street said.

Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss prepared to call for a “paradigm shift” in the wake of Russia’s assault on Ukraine.

In a speech in the US on Thursday, Ms Truss will make comparisons between the Russian president’s actions and the World Trade Centre terror attack in 2001, and will urge the international community to change its approach to dealing with antagonistic world leaders.

One of the three areas where she will say the UK wants to see stronger action is on forging stronger global alliances, including with countries not historically aligned to Britain, according to Foreign Office officials.

Giving the Makins Lecture at the Atlantic Council think tank in Washington, the Cabinet minister will say it is time to end “strategic dependence” on hostile and authoritarian states, including a departure from using Russian energy.

It comes after the UK and the US on Tuesday announced they will phase out imports of Russian oil by the end of the year as part of increased sanctions on Moscow.

During their call on Wednesday evening, Mr Johnson was said to have praised Mr Zelensky for his “deeply moving address to the House of Commons” on Tuesday, saying the Ukrainian president had “earned the admiration and love of the British people”.

He also “committed to further tighten… sanctions in order to impose the maximum economic cost on Russia”, a Downing Street spokesperson said.

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