Graham Phillips, a British journalist/blogger from Nottingham, has been chastised for his pro-Putin coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, becoming the first British national to be sanctioned by the UK government.
Philips was recently accused of war crimes after interviewing British captive Aiden Aslin for Russian State TV and describing him as a “mercenary”. During the siege of Mariupol, Russian forces kidnapped Aslin, who has now been sentenced to death by Russian-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine.
This week, British authorities froze Mr. Phillip’s assets, accusing his media output of intending to “destabilised Ukraine.”
The pro-Kremlin blogger was previously detained by Ukrainian authorities in 2014 while working for Russia Today, but was later released.
The interview of Phillips and Aslin caused uproar, with the Defence Ministry accusing him of “filming facilities that are not permitted to be filmed.” The video was “a flagrant violation of the Geneva Conventions,” according to Newark MP Robert Jenrick, who added that Mr. Phillips was “in danger of being prosecuted for war crimes.”
Phillips also received harsh criticism from Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who labelled the interview as a “propaganda message.” YouTube removed the controversial video and no longer paid him for advertisements.
Phillips is now subject to the most recent round of sanctions, according to the Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office (FCDO).
In a statement outlining the reasons behind the action, the FCDO said: “Graham Phillips is a video blogger who has created and published media content that supports and promotes actions and policies that destabilise Ukraine and undermine or threaten Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty, or independence.”
“Today’s sanctions build on the UK’s tough sanctions package on Russia, which includes designations on more than 1,100 individuals and more than 100 entities,” they added.
“Additional powers have also recently come into force, including the prohibition of new UK investment into Russia, the banning of Russian gold from the UK’s world-leading bullion market, and further expanding of the criteria for who can be sanctioned.”
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