Ukraine-Russia crisis: Boris Johnson's tough talk about Vladimir Putin is not being matched by tough action – Ian Murray MP

Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin meet on the sidelines of a summit in Berlin in 2020 (Picture: Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin meet on the sidelines of a summit in Berlin in 2020 (Picture: Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson and Vladimir Putin meet on the sidelines of a summit in Berlin in 2020 (Picture: Alexey Nikolsky/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images)
This has been a dark week for Europe. Vladimir Putin has denied the right of a sovereign nation to exist and appears hellbent on plunging Ukraine into a wider war.

We must stand firm behind the people of Ukraine, support their sovereignty, and fully condemn Russian aggression. No excuses and no whataboutery. Putin has committed grave crimes against peace.

I have zero tolerance for anyone who wrongly claims Nato expansion caused the Ukrainian crisis, when it is Putin who has stationed 200,000 Russian soldiers on its borders.

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Here at home, our Prime Minister has promised a tough response, yet has so far delivered a weak reaction.

The sanctions are welcome, but we must be prepared to go much further – now. There is no point in waiting to take tougher action. A threshold has already been breached and we must not let Putin believe the benefits of aggression outweigh the costs.

Russia should be excluded from financial mechanisms like Swift, and we should ban trading in Russian sovereign debt.

We should work with our European allies to ensure the Nordstream 2 pipeline is cancelled and handle any disruption in the supply of energy and raw materials.

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We must bring together the widest possible coalition of nations to condemn this action. This must be a turning point.

But there is also action we should take at home. Labour has called on the government to work with us to stop foreign influence in our political system and put in measures to stop those with links to Putin using their money to influence who sits in the Commons.

The Conservatives have consistently talked tough on Russian influence, while leaving the back door wide open. No wonder their response to Ukraine seems to follow a similar pattern of tough rhetoric and lacklustre actions.

It’s no use challenging Russian aggression abroad but blindly accepting Russian corruption at home.

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When I was on the Foreign Affairs Committee, we produced the Moscow’s Gold report on Russian corruption in the UK.

We called on the government to investigate gaps in the sanctions regime that allow companies to float on the London Stock Exchange, broaden its approach to sanctions by including individuals connected to hostile regimes, and set out a coherent, pro-active Russia strategy. The government refused to act on our recommendations.

It’s time the government completely reset its relationship with Russia and stopped chasing Putin’s gold.

There is something else we can do too – and that’s to take action against the flood of disinformation and propaganda that flows from Moscow. It’s time to take Russia Today off air around the world.

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And while it has always been abhorrent that some senior UK figures have danced to Moscow’s tune on this station, shame on anyone who continues to take the Putin pound.

You might think he couldn’t stoop any lower, but step forward one Alex Salmond.

The former First Minister continues to pontificate on his RT show. I hope his ex-SNP colleagues pile pressure on him to leave the channel.

The Russian regime represents a fundamental geopolitical threat to the international community and it’s time that everyone comes together in support of Nato and the UN and in support of freedom, democracy and equality.

Ian Murray is Labour MP for Edinburgh South

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