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France Tells UK: Target Russian Oligarchs in London

France Tells UK: Target Russian Oligarchs in London

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told the United Kingdom they must impose sanctions on Russian oligarchs in London. The West passed more sanctions against Russia after Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine.

It is unknown if Prime Minister David Cameron will adhere to Fabius’s advice. When the British leader previously had the opportunity to target the oligarchs, he backed down. Today, Cameron told the House of Commons during Prime Minister’s Questions that the referendum in Crimea was “illegitimate and illegal… spatchcocked together, held at the point of a Russian Kalashnikov”.

 On March 11, five days before Crimea’s referendum, world leaders met in London and decided on sanctions against the lower level people involved in Russia’s occupation of Crimea. Cameron talked a tough game leading up to the talks.

“We should not be hitting the monkeys. We should be hitting the organ grinders,” he said.

“Putin has taken the gloves off by invading a sovereign country. We shoudn’t [sic] be pussy-footing around. We have to hit them in the pocket.”

Fabius said France will take stronger steps against Russia and might not cancel a military contract with Russia valued at £1 billion. In 2008, France agreed to build two Mistral-class helicopter carriers and the first one is due to be delivered by the end of the year.

But France will not take the first big step by itself. Fabius said other countries must join them in strong sanctions. British Foreign Secretary William Hague told him the UK stopped military cooperation with Russia. France will not stop all cooperations.

“It’s very complicated. On the one hand one can’t envisage supplying [Russia] indefinitely given its behaviour. On the other hand there is the reality of jobs and the economy,” he told Europe 1 radio.

He added: “We are doing everything to ensure [the suspension] will not be necessary.”

After Russia annexed Crimea, President Obama and the European Union expanded on the already passed sanctions. However, the Russian deputy prime minister took to Twitter and literally laughed at the weakness of Obama’s sanctions. The EU said the sanctions must be equal for all European countries:

Intense discussions are under way among European diplomats to ensure any sanctions would affect EU member states equally. “Britain, France and others talk about energy sanctions that would hit Germany and Italy hardest. France, Germany and Italy talk about financial and banking sanctions that would hurt London. Everyone, especially the east Europeans, is critical of France for selling amphibious assault warships to Russia,” a senior EU diplomat said.

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