Exclusive

Boris wants to punish Putin by going for Russia's gold as 'he already crossed red lines'

24 March 2022, 07:08 | Updated: 24 March 2022, 08:29

Boris Johnson says Putin has already crossed red lines in attacking civilians
Boris Johnson says Putin has already crossed red lines in attacking civilians. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Boris Johnson now wants to go for Russia's gold reserves in his bid to tighten the screws on Moscow, saying Putin has already crossed a red line by bombing civilians.

The Prime Minister told LBC's Nick Ferrari at Breakfast that while the West has spoken about Putin going too far if he uses chemical weapons, he has already "crossed a threshold of barbarism" in attacking innocent people in Ukraine.

He insisted "we need to do more" and was looking at options to crank up the heat on the Kremlin ahead of a meeting with Nato leaders on Thursday.

"We all want to see some solution in Ukraine, everyone is hoping that Putin will pull back and stop this incredible, barbaric slaughter that he's engaged on," Mr Johnson said.

"But the only way to do that, we think, and there's a huge amount of unity, is to keep going with the pressure that we’ve applied and to increase it.

Read more: Boris Johnson: It is 'beyond satire' Russia would be allowed to host Euro 2028

Read more: Boris wants to punish Putin by going for Russia's gold as 'he already crossed red lines'

"And the point I'm going to make today is look, he's already crossed a threshold of barbarism in the way he's behaving.

"People talk about new red lines for chemical, biological, tactical nuclear weapons or whatever.

"For me, the red line already has been crossed. He's bombing, indiscriminately, civilian centres.

"He's causing huge numbers of casualties in wholly innocent populations.

"We need to do more. 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?

"What can we do more to sanction SWIFT? And then we need to do more to give the Ukrainians military support."

Read more: UK to send more missiles to Ukraine as Boris declares 'Putin is already failing'

And Mr Johnson insisted he believes it is clear Russian invaders in this "brutal, barbaric... war in Ukraine" have committed illegal atrocities and wants to see Putin hauled in front of international judges.

"I think it is certainly true as Joe Biden has said that the Russian war machine is already guilty of war crimes and it is right that Russia should now be called before the International Court of Justice and right that President Putin should appear before the International Criminal Court.

There is no question that what they are doing is are war crimes and we must make sure that we steadily collate all the evidence, all the evidence about the use of thermobaric weapons, the deliberate targeting of civilians, everything that we need to eventually bring prosecutions."

Asked by Nick if the UK had been too slow to start rolling out sanctions on Russian oligarchs, some of whom appear to have had their finances deeply entrenched in London, Mr Johnson admitted it had taken "a while" to sanction them.

He said that was down to tough property laws, but now oligarchs associated with Putin were being subjected to "huge economic punishment".

Read more: Shocking drone footage reveals devastation in besieged city of Mariupol

Read more: Concert for Ukraine: Chancellor announces VAT on tickets to be donated to charity

He will call for more measures against Russia as he meets Nato leaders in Brussels later.

"My message today in Nato will be the ways in which the world can continue to intensify the pressure on Putin.

"And the more we do that now, the more pressure we apply now, particularly on things like gold, I believe the more we can shorten the war, shorten the slaughter in Ukraine."

The Prime Minister is to send another 6,000 missiles to the country, which has enjoyed success against Russian armour by using NLAW launchers sent by the UK.

Nato is set to confirm four new battlegroups will be set up in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, numbering about 1,000 to 1,500 troops each.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is also set to address Nato, as he calls for global demonstrations to mark a month since Russia invaded.

More Nick Ferrari

See more More Nick Ferrari

Exclusive
Boris Johnson said if people visit Rwanda they would see it is "going places"

'You'd change your mind about Rwanda if you visited': Boris defends controversial plan

The Prime Minister was grilled by Nick Ferrari on the last day of the Nato summit

Watch in Full: Nick Ferrari grills Boris Johnson

Exclusive
The PM defended sending billions in support to Ukraine during the cost-of-living crisis

PM defends Ukraine aid in cost of living crisis as he's grilled over '£150k treehouse'

'I won't be shopping in Sainsbury's again but I went back for my apology'

Mum slams supermarket after being told off by worker for breastfeeding in car park

'It's not govt policy to arm Taiwan': Foreign Affairs Committee Chair on Liz Truss' gaffe

'It's not govt policy to arm Taiwan': Foreign Affairs Committee Chair on Liz Truss' gaffe

Ben Wallace said Putin was a 'lunatic'

Putin a 'lunatic with small man syndrome' says minister as PM blasts 'toxic masculinity'

Russian invasion of Ukraine made Nato 'look again' at military capability, says defence chief

Russian invasion of Ukraine made Nato 'look again' at military capability, says defence chief

There's an 'ethical and political vacuum in No10', says former chief of staff

There's an 'ethical and political vacuum in No10', says former chief of staff

Nick Ferrari grilled Priti Patel on her Rwanda migrant plan.

Rwanda migrant plan is not 'appalling' but 'should be a deterrent', Priti Patel tells LBC

Exclusive
Lord Bilimoria, outgoing president of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) speaks to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast.

'Reduce taxes now': Outgoing CBI chief calls on Rishi to slash 'highest taxes in 70 years'

Grant Shapps has criticised the RMT leader Mick Lynch.

Rail strike called under 'false pretences' by RMT's '1970s union baron' boss, says Shapps

Ofgem chief warns price cap hike 'could be more' than predicted £800

Ofgem chief warns price cap hike 'could be more' than predicted £800

Exclusive
The chairman of Network Rail Sir Peter Hendy has told LBC the industry can be run more effectively with fewer staff.

'Steam age' railway can be run more effectively with fewer staff, rail boss says

Rail strikes will cause "misery for millions"

'Driving unrest and stoking unrealistic expectations': Minister slams RMT ahead of strikes

'What's the point of advisors?!': Nick Ferrari baffled by resignation of Lord Geidt

'What's the point of advisors?!': Nick Ferrari baffled by resignation of Lord Geidt

The minister was speaking to LBC 's Nick Ferrari

Minister calls on Mayor of London to drop congestion charge on rail strike days