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RUSSIA-UKRAINE FRONTLINE VIRTUALLY CLOSE TO CAYMAN

International 17 Feb, 2022 Follow News

RUSSIA-UKRAINE FRONTLINE VIRTUALLY CLOSE TO CAYMAN

It might be over 6,000 miles away, but the worsening hostility between Russia and western/NATO-backed Ukraine - which some leaders see as on the verge of all-out war - could be closer to Cayman than a casual observation might suggest.

According to UK press reports, British Foreign Office and Treasury officials have asked The Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies to freeze the assets of oligarchs suspected of having close ties to Russian president Vladimir if he invades Ukraine.

A report in the I-news says as Western leaders warn of an invasion within days, the British government is attempting to ensure they co-operate on identifying Russian individuals and businesses that may have hidden “dirty money” offshore.

The British government has already stated that it is prepared to target Russian banks and companies, and prevent them from raising money on London's financial markets.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has spoken about a “very tough" set of sanctions "ready to go".

All of this comes as tensions intensify between Russia and the UK, US, EU and other western nations in the NATO alliance (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation).

Western leaders have threatened crippling economic sanctions against the Russia state and have also warned that they will target the overseas assets of wealthy Russian individuals and companies who back the Putin administration.

In the ongoing cat-and-mouse and sabre-rattling game that’s being played out along the borders of Russia and Ukraine, the rest of the world has been closely monitoring the ebb and flow of the unfolding drama.

“It’s better to jaw-jaw than to war-war”, the British wartime leader Sir Winston Churchill once said and that too seemed to have intensified over the past several days in parallel to the ominous threat from Russia which many western leaders fear could plunge the world into World War Three.

A constant series of meetings among Western leaders, along with direct in-person meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow - across a vast white table indicative of the ideological gulf between them - have so far failed to ‘de-escalate’ the tensions.

Russia claims that the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organisation) countries are moving too close to its borders, citing the likelihood of Ukraine becoming a NATO member which it has vowed to block, even militarily, although it has said no plans to invade Ukraine and accuses the West of “hysteria”.

The NATO alliance while saying that there is no immediate prospect of Ukraine becoming a member, however defend that country’s right to choose its own path as a sovereign state outside the Russian scope of influence.

The ties between Ukraine and Russia run deep historically and culturally and are complex to unravel.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an independent state, formalised with a referendum in December 1991.

Before that, what was then the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, also known as Soviet Ukraine, was one of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union from the Union's inception in 1922 until its breakup.

Experts in global politics say President Putin has been exerting pressure on Ukraine to bring it back into Russia’s scope of influence for political, cultural and economic reasons.

In 2014 Russia took control of the Crimea region in Ukraine in support of a separatist movement. The US and the EU slapped a series of sanctions on Russia in response.

Now, with tensions heightened to a level far exceeding the Crimea crisis, the US, EU and other NATO nations are threatening even tougher economic penalties.

US President Joe Biden has vowed that Russia will face “swift and severe costs” if it invades Ukraine.

While playing down the prospect of a military conflict, western countries which have been assisting Ukraine with its defence preparedness have repeatedly warned of the extent of economic sanctions they are prepared to impose on Russia.

Trade and financial transactions on the Russian state and individuals are high on the agenda.

According to analysts President Putin and members of his inner circle could personally pay a price if Russia invades Ukraine.

In the US, legislation has been tabled to block property transactions and interests in property held by Mr Putin and several other top Russian officials.

Consideration is also being given to removing Russia from the global SWIFT financial system for transferring money from bank to bank around the world.

Another measure being looked at would be to block Russia from access to the U.S. dollar, still the dominant global currency for international financial transactions.

Into this swirling diplomatic maelstrom, Cayman and other UK Overseas Territories and Crown Dependencies, despite their small size and vast geographical distance from the physical frontline, could be called on to play a critical role.

A wider perspective would also also entail the local impact from global fuel costs in light of a conflict with disruptions to global oil supplies and a spike in gas prices.

With oil prices soaring in recent weeks on speculation that demand will outpace supply as the global economy rebounds from the pandemic, some analysts caution that a conflict between Russia and Ukraine - and by extension the NATO alliance - could further complicate matters.


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