UK’s Johnson says pressure could be applied to Putin’s gold reserves

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LONDON, March 24 (Reuters) – Britain and its western allies will increase the economic pressure on Russia and are looking to see if more can be done to prevent President Vladimir Putin from accessing his gold reserves, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday.

Ahead of a NATO meeting in Brussels, Johnson told LBC Radio that Putin had already crossed a red line and that he should appear before the International Criminal Court.

“We need to do more,” he said. “And so we need to do more economically. Can we do more to stop him using his gold reserves for instance, in addition to his cash reserves?”

“The more pressure we apply now, particularly on things like gold, that I believe the more we can shorten the war.”

Britain will provide Ukraine with about 6,000 new defensive missiles and almost 30 million pounds ($40 million) to support the BBC’s coverage in the region and pay Ukrainian soldiers and pilots.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will announce the new package of support on Thursday at the NATO and G7 leaders’ meetings while also signalling a willingness to bolster Ukraine’s defence capabilities further, his office said on Wednesday.

“The United Kingdom will work with our allies to step up military and economic support to Ukraine, strengthening their defences as they turn the tide in this fight,” Johnson said.

“One month into this crisis, the international community faces a choice. We can keep the flame of freedom alive in Ukraine, or risk it being snuffed out across Europe and the world.”

As part of the package, the UK will provide 6,000 missiles and 25 million pounds in financial backing for the Ukrainian military. It will also provide 4.1 million pounds for the BBC World Service to help support its Ukrainian and Russian language services, and tackle disinformation.

Britain said with the new commitment it will have provided up to 10,000 missiles and that the additional funds come on top of 400 million pounds committed in humanitarian and economic aid.

Thursday’s NATO summit in Brussels is expected to unlock additional aid for Kyiv including equipment to help Ukraine protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats.

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