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Weapons for Ukraine ‘more important than restricting Russian assets’

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he UK providing weapons and training to Ukrainian forces “shows to Putin that the war won’t be such an easy ride”, a former oligarch has said.

Exiled Russian businessman Mikhail Khodorkovsky said bolstering Ukraine defences was the most important way that London could show solidarity with Kyiv in the face of Russian aggression on the border.

Speaking on Trevor Phillips On Sunday on Sky News, Mr Khodorkovsky was asked whether putting more pressure on the assets of allies of Russian President Vladimir Putin in the UK would deter Moscow from launching an invasion in Ukraine.

“The pressure on the assets and the properties of the Russians in Britain has two sides,” he said.

“Putin’s clique illegally pressurise the British political system, it’s done in numerous ways.

“There are legal firms who work for them, sometimes it’s direct influence on British governing bodies. It’s really important to fight this, it’s a dangerous thing for Britain.

“That’s one part of it – the influence of Putin’s clique.

“The other thing is an ethical issue, it’s a question for British society whether it’s happy and whether the system is happy to have dirty money on the British territory.

“As far as Putin is concerned these assets are in enemy territory, he sees this as a betrayal unless these people are influencing the British system.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson with Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv, Ukraine (Peter Nicholls/PA) / PA Wire

But Mr Khodorkovsky added: “More important is supplying weapons and training Ukrainians – that shows to Putin that the war won’t be such an easy ride if he’s planning one.”

It comes as Labour called on the Conservatives to pay back donations from Russians and tackle “dirty money” in Britain.

In a joint letter from shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves and shadow foreign secretary David Lammy, the party said: “London is the destination of choice for the world’s kleptocrats.”

The pair said: “This is not simply a matter of targeting some individuals or entities through sanctions but about fixing a broken system – Britain’s openness to fraud and money laundering, inadequate regulation of political donations, lax mechanisms of corporate governance, and weakness to foreign interference.”

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