By Muvija M
LONDON (Reuters) -Britain set out 26 new sanctions on Thursday targeting Russian military generals responsible for what it called atrocities in Ukraine, as well as individuals and businesses supporting the Russian armed forces.
“Today’s new wave of sanctions hits the generals and defence companies that have blood on their hands,” foreign minister Liz Truss said in a statement.
Britain, which has sought to play a central role in the West’s response to Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, has already set out hundreds of sanctions, such as asset freezes and travel bans on prominent Russian billionaires and politicians including President Vladimir Putin.
The latest sanctions included an asset freeze and travel ban on Azatbek Omurbekov, a commander in the Russian army who the British government said was involved in the “Bucha massacre”.
Ukraine and most major western countries have accused Russia of war crimes in Bucha during the several weeks when the northern town was under Russian occupation. Pictures of dead civilians that emerged after Russian forces withdrew sparked an international uproar and led to further sanctions on Russia by the United States, Britain and the European Union.
Russia has denied allegations that it killed civilians in Bucha, calling footage and photographs of dead bodies a “staged performance” by Kyiv.
Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it has concluded that Russian attacks on Ukrainian government buildings, schools and hospitals since March 10 were intentional based on, among other things, the types of civilian targets struck, frequency of strikes and volume of munitions used.
Earlier in the week, Ukraine said the second phase of the war had begun with the “Battle of Donbas” in the country’s east, after failing to capture the capital Kyiv and being forced to withdraw from the north.
Russia calls its incursion a “special military operation” to demilitarise and “denazify” Ukraine. Kyiv and its Western allies reject that as a false pretext for an illegal war of aggression.
Britain said its new sanctions also targeted Kalashnikov Concern, a maker of army equipment whose weapons have been used by the Russian army in Ukraine; Military Industrial Company, a major supplier of arms and military equipment to Russia; and Russia’s largest leasing company GTLK.
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(Reporting by Muvija M, editing by William James and Mark Heinrich)