Britain has today announced sanctions on Russian officials responsible for the forced mobilisation of citizens to fight in Ukraine.
Also targeted was the head of Russia’s prison system, accused of supporting the recruitment of convicts to fight as mercenaries in return for pardons for crimes including murder and sex attacks.
Ill-equipped and poorly trained conscripts – many of them drawn from Russia’s ethnic minorities – have been sent to the frontline in recent months as “cannon fodder” as Vladimir Putin’s invasion met fierce resistance from Ukraine.
Putin announced the mobilisation of 300,000 military reservists to bolsters his Army’s depleted ranks in September, and the Kremlin says the process has been completed, though it is unclear how many extra troops have been recruited.
Top of today’s list of 22 sanctioned individuals was deputy prime minister Denis Manturov, who is responsible for overseeing the Russian weapons industry and equipping mobilised troops.
Others facing travel bans and asset freezes include the leaders of ethnic republics Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kalmykia, from which a significant number of conscripts have been drawn.
Also sanctioned are the director of Russia’s prison system, Arkady Gostev, and the head of the federal punishment service in the Rostov region, Dmitry Bezrukikh.
Both are accused of working closely with Putin ally Yevgeny Prigozhin, to recruit prison inmates to the Wagner Group of mercenaries propping up the Russian war effort.
Announcing the new sanctions, foreign secretary James Cleverly said: “The Russian regime’s decision to partially mobilise Russian citizens was a desperate attempt to overwhelm the valiant Ukrainians defending their territory. It has failed.
“Today we have sanctioned individuals who have enforced this conscription, sending thousands of Russian citizens to fight in Putin’s illegal and abhorrent war.
“The UK will continue to use both sanctions and military aid to support Ukraine in the defence of their independence.”
Also sanctioned today are those responsible for organising September’s sham referendums in four occupied areas of Ukraine, which produced majorities – denounced internationally as unreliable – for union with Russia.
These include the chair of Russia’s central election commission, Ella Pamfilova, and the head of Rostov’s regional election commission, Andrey Burov.